A previous version of this story incorrectly stated in the headline that the increase in July sales was 13 percent. The correct figure is 11.3.

[UPDATE 12:04 p.m. EDT]  Michelle Krebs, Edmunds.com senior analyst, on Ford’s best-selling sedan and the company’s efforts to ramp up its production:  “The Fusion stays on dealership lots for the least amount of time of any midsize sedan – the regular Fusion averages only 29 days on the lot; the Fusion Hybrid is even less at 20 days. The Fusion's production capacity upgrade this fall can't come soon enough.” Read Ford’s announcement from Wednesday about its plans to start U.S.-based production of the Fusion later this year. The Fusion is currently manufactured at the company’s Hermosillo Assembly Plant in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.

[UPDATE 9:57 a.m. EDT] Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) has agreed to pay $17.5 million to the federal government over a year-long dispute over where the company took too long to recall 423,000 Escape SUVs over concerns of uncontrolled acceleration, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing a National Highway Traffic Safety Agency document dated July 28. The NHTSA claims Ford knew about the flaw but didn’t tell customers. Ford denies it broke any laws but agreed to pay the penalty to avoid a “protracted dispute.”

"NHTSA's record-setting fine charged to Ford is sending a loud message that it will not tolerate foot dragging when it comes to recalls that could cause harm to consumers,” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for auto intelligence provider Edmunds.com, said in an emailed statement. "Any consumer who owns a 2001 to 2004 Ford Escape should take it to a dealer to have the work done that was outlined in the July 2012 recall if they have not done so already."

Original story about July 2013 auto sales begins here: 

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) said Thursday it sold 193,715 vehicles in July, an 11.3 percent increase from a year ago as coastal consumers flocked to the company’s new small-sedan offerings.

Sales were down nearly 18 percent from a strong start-of-summer June performance, but they were in line with estimates from industry intelligence provider Edmunds.com.

“We saw continued strength and growth in our retail business, particularly in the coastal regions of the country,” said Ken Czubay, head of U.S. sales, marketing and service for the Dearborn, Mich., company. “Our small cars and hybrids continue to attract new customers.”

Retail sales exclude fleet sales from groups like auto lenders and government procurements and offer a glimpse into the sentiments of American car buyers.  

Ford spent $2,947 in incentives last month, according to Edmunds, the lowest of the Detroit Three competition but well above the $2,463 average for eight top automakers. TrueCar.com estimates Ford’s average transaction price last month was $33,207, above the average of $31,088. Companies that do well in the truck and luxury car segments generally have higher profit margins, but incentive spending can drive down earnings.

The Fiesta mini saw the biggest year-over-year jump, 88 percent, on relatively small volume relative to other sedans in the segment. Ford’s top-selling sedan, the recently revamped Fusion, saw a 12 percent drop to 20,522 units from the year-ago period.

The Focus compact, the company’s second-best-selling passenger car, saw a small, 1.9 percent rise to 16,764 units. Year-over-year sales of the trio of small sedans -- Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX -- increased 32 percent last month and 38 percent in June.

Like the other Detroit automakers, truck sales continue to carry the day. Sales of the No. 1-selling vehicle in America, the F-Series pickup, leaped 22.6 percent to 60,449 units. The Escape crossover, Ford’s best seller in the SUV segment, beat an all-time monthly record in June and saw a 3.6 percent rise last month, to 22,343.