Ford Motor Co President for the Americas Mark Fields announced that a solid first quarter of U.S. auto sales had caused the company to raise its 2012 forecast.

Ford now expects the U.S. auto industry sales for the year to be between 14.5 million and 15 million vehicles, including medium and heavy trucks. That is up from its previous forecast of between 13.5 million and 14.5 million.

Translated to the benchmark most of the industry uses that does not include medium and heavy trucks, Ford now thinks U.S. 2012 light vehicle sales will be between 14.2 million and 14.7 million vehicles.

First-quarter U.S. light vehicle auto sales were about 14.5 million to 14.6 million vehicles, which was the best quarterly sales rate in four years.

Last year, U.S. light vehicle sales were 12.8 million.

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; editing by Andre Grenon)