I'm surprised by the misleading conclusions that Hobart Rowen reached in a recent column {"Detroit's Self-Inflicted Wounds," op-ed, Nov. 8}. While he grudgingly admits that U.S. auto quality has improved, Mr. Rowen still denigrates U.S. auto makers, including my company, for allegedly putting profits ahead of "loss of market share to Japan."

Mr. Rowen didn't do his homework.

Ford has steadily gained market share. In the 1989 calendar year, Ford's 22.3 percent share represents an improvement of 4.1 points since 1986 and 5.4 points since 1982. And that hasn't been limited to just the United States, despite Mr. Rowen's bias. Ford's 14.6 percent share of total "free world" car and truck sales for the last full year of record amounts to an increase of 1.6 percent since 1980, the largest share increase of the world's top 10 auto companies.

As for the price increases, Mr. Rowen's "facts" don't add up.

Since 1981, when the voluntary restraint agreement on Japanese imports went into effect, Ford's average price increases have run 10 points below the consumer price index. Our prices went up 37 percent while the CPI rose 47 percent. Meanwhile, the major Japanese auto makers increased prices of cars sold in the United States by 63 percent -- 16 points higher than the CPI.

That can best be seen by looking at small cars, the market segment where the United States competes most strongly with the Japanese. In 1981, the Ford Escort was priced about $1,200 higher than a comparable Toyota Corolla. But today the 1991 Ford Escort is priced approximately $700 less than a comparable Toyota Corolla.

It doesn't take more than the common sense of Post readers to see who is truly raising prices. Mr. Rowen owes these readers an apology.

JERRY terHORST Director, National Public Affairs Ford Motor Co. Washington