Ford Motor Co. plans to build 595,000 light vehicles in North America in the second quarter, up 32 percent from the same period last year and slightly higher than the current quarter.
Ford's February U.S. sales jumped 43 percent -- enough to outsell General Motors Co. for the first month since 1998. But chief sales analyst George Pipas said today that Ford will stay cautious on production.
Ford will continue to adjust production to match sales, keeping U.S. inventory at about 400,000 vehicles until sales rebound more solidly.
“As long as the industry sales rate hangs, then 400,000 is the level of inventory we're comfortable with,” Pipas said at today's sales conference call.
Sales boss Ken Czubay pledged that Ford would stay “completely competitive” if Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. or other competitors increased incentives.
“But we will stick to our plan to match production to actual sales,” he said. “The field is littered with competitors who have fallen prey to overmerchandizing.”
Ford itself has been among those bitten over the past decade by big sales incentives that undercut used-car prices and ultimately hurt a brand's values. Escaping that cycle has been the company's plan in recent years, Czubay said.
Pipas noted that Ford's production plan for the first three months this year is unchanged at 580,000 vehicles. If March's output matches the plan, the first quarter would be a slight uptick from fourth-quarter production of 574,000, he said.