Autos News

Ford watches rivals in turmoil, raises production

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co F.N, the only U.S. automaker not in bankruptcy, said on Monday it is watching the industry's upheavals closely to ensure its own restructuring stays on track and has quietly raised its production plans.

Ford Motor company executives are seated on stage (L-R) CFO Lewis Booth, CEO Alan Mulally, Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Corporate Secretary Peter Sherry and General Counsel David Leitch during the Ford Motor Company annual shareholders' meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, May 14, 2009 REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Ford, which has posted losses of more than $31 billion since the start of 2006, said it has increased North American production incrementally in the second quarter and plans to build more vehicles in the third quarter than a year earlier.

The automaker also said it does not expect any major disruptions to its operations as a result of the bankruptcy filing by rival General Motors Corp GM.N on Monday.

GM plans a sale of its key assets that would result in the U.S. government owning more than 60 percent of the automaker within three months. GM’s restructuring includes cutting brands, dealerships, plants, hourly and salaried workers.

Meanwhile, Chrysler LLC, in bankruptcy since April 30, received court approval to move forward on its planned sale to a group led by Fiat SpA FIA.MI. Chrysler shuttered its North American plants for the bankruptcy.

“We look forward to working with the Obama administration to ensure that the government’s majority ownership of GM will not change the industry’s competitive dynamics and that a level playing field will be maintained,” Ford said.

Ford said it remains committed to completing its restructuring without seeking U.S. government emergency aid.

Ford said it would increase its previous second-quarter production plan by 10,000 vehicles to 445,000 mainly in crossovers and pickup trucks. That still ranks 35 percent below Ford’s production of 685,000 in the second quarter of 2008.

Ford said it planned to build 460,000 vehicles in North America in the third quarter, up about 10 percent from a year earlier, when it built 418,000 vehicles.

The Ford third-quarter production plan cuts back car production by 34,000 units and raises truck production by 76,000 vehicles from a year earlier.

In the third quarter of 2008, Ford had raised car production and cut back on trucks to meet increased consumer demand for smaller vehicles that was spurred by the jump in U.S. gasoline prices.

Ford shares rose 6.61 percent to close at $6.13 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Additional reporting by Poornima Gupta, editing by Matthew Lewis