DETROIT -- Driven by strong truck sales, Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales were up 13 percent in May to 215,699 units.
Ford, still struggling to keep up with demand, also said today that it plans to build 690,000 vehicles in the third quarter, up 5 percent from the third quarter of 2011.
In May, Ford brand sales rose 13 percent to 208,425 compared with May 2011. Lincoln sales fell 2 percent to 7,274.
Fleet sales accounted for 35 percent of Ford Motor's sales in May, up from 34 percent last year, said Erich Merkle, Ford's chief U.S. sales analyst.
F-series pickup sales rose 29 percent to 54,836. Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said it was the F series' best May since 2007.
Czubay attributed the boost in sales to drivers' trading in old trucks and a greater demand for trucks with enhanced fuel economy. F-150s with Ford's EcoBoost engines accounted for 43 percent of retail F-150 sales in May, he said.
'A strong month'
"It was a strong month for us," Czubay said during a conference call with reporters and analysts. "I don't think it's necessarily housing-driven, because the housing data doesn't support that, so we're eagerly awaiting the rebound in housing."
He said pickup sales were fueled by "replacement, pent-up demand" as shown by "the age of the fleet, coupled with the desire to get trucks that get greatly improved fuel economy."
Merkle said Ford had a 54-day supply of vehicles in May, down from a 66-day supply in April.
Merkle also said Ford plans to add a third shift of 1,300 workers at its Louisville Assembly Plant in the second half of 2012 to build the redesigned Escape. Ford added a second shift at the plant this year.
Ford added shifts at its Kansas City, Mo.; Wayne, Michigan; and Chicago assembly plants last month.
Fiesta continues to struggle
Sales of the Focus compact climbed 11 percent to 24,769, but sales of the subcompact Fiesta dropped 15 percent to 6,080.
Fusion sales jumped 9 percent to 26,857, while Escape sales were flat at 23,077. Redesigned 2013 versions of both arrive this year.
Ford began delivering 2013 Escapes to dealers in May, but Czubay said the new version of the vehicle accounted for fewer than 1,000 of May sales.
Ford Motor sales were up 7 percent through May, to 933,179.
The Ford brand's year-to-date sales also rose 7 percent, while Lincoln's were down 1 percent.
But with industry sales advancing 13 percent this year, Ford's U.S. market share has dropped to 15.6 percent in 2012 from 16.6 percent during the same period last year.