Ford Motor Co. said its namesake brand exceeded two million U.S. sales this year for the first time since 2007, led by gains for small cars such as the Fiesta and the Focus, as well as the revamped Explorer sport-utility vehicle.

Smaller cars are on pace for a sales increase of more than 20 percent this year, while light trucks including the Explorer, the Escape SUV, and the F-150 pickup may rise at least 30 percent, Ford said in a statement Friday.

The second-largest U.S. automaker is benefiting from a market that through November grew 10 percent from a year earlier. Sales of the Fiesta, which debuted in this country in June 2010, had more than tripled through November; Explorer sales had more than doubled.

"The industry sales rate has exceeded 13 million in each of the last three months," Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president for U.S. sales and marketing, said in the statement. "This suggests the current momentum is not an aberration."

Ford brand sales gained 18 percent to 1.86 million through November, compared with 1.76 million for all of 2010.

Total U.S. sales through November increased 11 percent.

The automaker reported net income of $6.6 billion in this year's first nine months.

Unlike its U.S. rivals, Ford managed to avoid bankruptcy in the recession. It borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006, before credit markets froze, giving it the cash to weather the economic downturn and invest in new models.