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Two months after launching the redesigned Ford Taurus sedan, Ford Motor Co.

is dealing with an unexpected surprise: It underestimated demand in California.

California is the nation’s No. 1 car market, largely because it’s the nation’s largest state by population, with more than 36 million residents. But historically, Californians have not preferred brands from Detroit.

Amy Marentic, Ford’s marketing manager for large cars and crossovers, said California was the second-best selling market for the new 2010 Ford Taurus in September, behind only metro Detroit.

“That’s a significant change for us,” Marentic said. “The older Taurus … did not move and really wasn’t relevant in California.”

Ford launched its new Taurus in August as a full-size sedan after its efforts to rebadge the Ford Five Hundred as a Taurus in 2007 failed to reinvigorate sales.

Last September, as Lehman Brothers collapsed, industry sales fell sharply, and Taurus sales declined to 3,172, or 25%, while Ford’s total sales declined 34.5% that month.

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Redesigned Taurus unexpectedly popular in California

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