Undeterred by soft February sales, automakers are plunging ahead with higher production schedules in the second quarter and what's left of the first quarter.
Some light-truck inventories are lean, and the Big 3 refreshed their generous rebates last week.
So automakers are planning for a solid spring selling season, another sign that the recession is all but over.
Since November, several automakers, including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, have boosted production plans.
Automakers now plan to produce 4.3 million vehicles in North America in the second quarter, up 0.9 percent from the second quarter of 2001.
The second-quarter increase will follow higher production in the first quarter vs. 2001.
GM last week boosted its first quarter production schedule by 20,000 units, a 1.5 percent increase from its earlier forecast. The company cited "the stronger industry sales outlook and GM's performance in the retail market." On Feb. 1, for instance, GM had a 46-day supply of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer.
Despite Ford's urgent need to reduce costs, the company postponed several production cuts last week. The reductions were part of its January turnaround plan.
"We're really stocking up" for the spring, said dealer Jerry Chambers of Jerry Chambers Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac in Bellingham, Wash. "Consumers coming in the front door are feeling a lot better."
He had one TrailBlazer on his lot Friday, March 1. Said Chambers: "I'd like 20."