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UPDATE 1-Ford remains top of Canadian auto sales in October

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co of Canada remained Canada's top-selling automaker in October with total sales increasing 7 percent largely on the back of a nearly 17 percent jump in passenger car sales, the company said on Thursday.

Ford of Canada, a wholly-owned unit of Ford Motor Co, said total vehicle sales increased to 20,565 last month from 19,190 in October 2011.

``The auto industry is a key engine driving the Canadian economy and it is showing strong, sustainable growth,'' said Dianne Craig, president and chief executive of Ford of Canada.

Although car sales, led by the Ford Focus, was by far the strongest segment as consumers continued to turn to smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles, sales of trucks, including the popular F-150 line, also rose in October, by 4.5 percent.

Year-to-date Ford's vehicle sales are up 0.5 percent. Trucks, traditionally the mainstay of Detroit automakers in Canada, remains by far the bigger seller with 179,712 sold between January and October, up 2.1 percent.

By comparison, Ford has sold 60,035 in the first 10 months of 2012, down 4 percent.

Ford rival, Chrysler Canada earlier said its sales in October rose 3 percent over a year before, continuing its nearly three-year run of stronger sales largely on the back of higher passenger car sales.

Chrysler Canada, a wholly-owned unit of Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC affiliate, said last month's increase to 17,049 units sold was its 35th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. That represents the longest sales streak in the company's history, it said in a statement.

Chrysler Canada's sales are up 6 percent year-to-date to 212,076 units.

October's higher sales were driven primarily by the Chrysler 200 sedan and the small, retro-styled and fuel-efficient Fiat 500. Sales of Chrysler's Ram pick-up truck also increased 3 percent in October.