Ford has knocked General Motors off its long-running pole position in the US car market, according to monthly sales figures released Tuesday, while Toyota took less of a hit to its bottom line than many had expected.

Ford Motor Co sold 142,006 cars and light trucks in February, up 43.4 percent from the same month a year earlier. General Motors Corp saw only a 12-percent gain in US sales to 141,535.

Japanese giant Toyota Motor Corp's sales fell nine percent to just above 100,000 as the world's largest carmaker has struggled to salvage its reputation after a series of safety recalls in the last few months.

The surprising turnaround between Ford and GM highlights the different directions the two Detroit car giants have travelled in the past few years.

GM went through bankruptcy last year, forcing the manufacturer to shed loss-making brands and drastically cut production. Already in 2008, GM lost its title of world's largest carmaker to Toyota.

Ford, in contrast, managed to avoid insolvency last year despite the massive drop in car sales brought on by a deep US recession. Ford is credited with embarking on a drastic restructuring effort earlier than its US rivals.

Keywords: FordGMFebruary car sales

More In: Companies | Business