Photo: Karen Bleier, AFP.
DETROIT -- Rising car and truck sales have prompted Ford Motor Co. to add a week of production at 13 North American factories so the company can make another 40,000 vehicles this year.
Ford said Tuesday that it would cut in half the normal two-week summer shutdown at six assembly plants and seven engine and parts plants. Normally auto plants close for two weeks around the July 4 holiday as they switch over to make vehicles for the next model year.
Through April, U.S. auto sales have been running at an annual rate over 14 million, up substantially from last year's 12.8 million. Ford sales through the first four months are up 5 percent over a year ago. Many analysts are forecasting sales in the 15 million range in 2013.
At Ford, most factories have been running at capacity, and the company is adding third shifts at three plants just this month to meet higher demand, said Jim Tetreault, vice president of North American Manufacturing. "Requiring more capacity from our plants is a good problem to have, and having the flexibility to add a week of production in our plants goes a long way toward solving it."
Factories that will work the extra week include Chicago Assembly, which makes the Ford Explorer SUV and Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS large cars; Dearborn Truck, in Dearborn, Mich., which makes F-Series trucks; Louisville Assembly in Louisville, Ky., which will make the new Ford Escape small SUV; Kentucky Truck in Louisville, which makes heavy-duty pickups and the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition big SUVs; Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Mich., which makes the Ford Focus compact; and Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Mo., which makes F-150 pickups.
Other factories with the added week include Dearborn Engine, Chicago Stamping, Cleveland Engine No. 1, Lima Engine in Lima, Ohio; Essex Engine in Windsor, Ontario; Sterling Axle in Sterling Heights, Mich., which makes transmission and engine parts; and the Rawsonville parts plant in Ypsilanti Township, Mich.
Ford now has enough plant capacity to make 2.6 million vehicles in North America, but the company plans to push that up to 3 million this year with added shifts and other changes, spokeswoman Marcey Evans said. The 40,000 is part of the planned increase, she said.
Ford shares fell 14 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $10.52 in afternoon trading. Its shares are up from a 52-wek low of $9.05 in early October, but they are down 31 percent from their high of $15.35 almost a year ago.
By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer