Ford will up Focus, Escape production

Ford said Thursday it will build more of its popular Focus and Escape models and boost total vehicle production later this year to help dealers restock depleted showrooms.

Ford Motor Co. needs to keep up with demand for its Focus compact and Escape crossover, both ranked as top sellers under the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program. It also wants to maintain a reasonable level of cars and trucks so its dealers won't run short on hot models during the final months of the year.

The Focuses, which are small, compact cars, will be built at the Wayne Assembly Plant in Michigan, where Ford will add Saturday shifts and weekday overtime to boost production.

The Escapes -- 5-passenger crossover utility vehicles which are larger and higher than a passenger car -- will roll out of Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant. Employees there have agreed to work two days during a planned shutdown week in August.

Cash for Clunkers, which kicked off last month and has revived industry sales for the moment, uses rebates of up to $4,500 to entice drivers to trade in older, gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles. To be eligible, vehicles must have combined city/highway mileage of 18 mpg or less when they were new.

Ford's overall vehicle production will be 2 percent higher than it expected in the third quarter. It also plans to boost its fourth-quarter output of cars and trucks by 33 percent from a year earlier.