DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s sales rose 13 percent in August from the year-earlier month, to 196,749 units, buoyed by strong sales of the F-series pickup, Escape crossover and Focus compact.
The three vehicles together accounted for more than half of Ford's sales in August: F series, 58,201 (up 19 percent); Escape, 28,188 (up 37 percent); and Focus, 19,073 (up 35 percent).
The 2013 Escape, introduced this summer, has quickly become the hottest vehicle on dealership lots. Ford recently added a third shift at its Louisville Assembly Plant to keep up with demand. About 80 percent of the Escapes sold in August were 2013 models, said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. sales, marketing and service. The Escape notched its best-ever August, with sales nearly equal to those of all other Ford-brand SUVs and crossovers combined.
After the Escape, the Focus compact was the biggest gainer in the Ford stable. Its sales were particularly strong in California, Czubay said. The Focus continued to overshadow its smaller sibling, the Fiesta. Sales of the Fiesta subcompact fell again in August, down 28 percent to 4,176.
Ford's other big seller in August was the Fusion mid-sized sedan with 21,690 units sold, up 21 percent. Ford is in sell-down mode with the Fusion, which is being replaced this fall by the redesigned 2013 Fusion.
Sales of Ford's F-series pickup got a boost from a modest recovery in the housing sector.
"The housing sector shows signs of revival," said Jenny Lin, Ford's senior U.S. economist. "We believe that the recovery in the housing sector does play a role in supporting full-size pickup sales. That is very timely because we're going into high season for truck sales."
Ford marketers have designated September as "truck month."
Czubay said sales of F-series Super Duty pickups rose 23 percent.
Lincoln's sales increased 2 percent for the month to 8,141 units. The 2012 MKZ sedan led the way, up 42 percent to 3,327. It will be replaced in the fourth quarter by the redesigned 2013 MKZ. But sales of the bigger MKS sedan, which was refreshed for 2013, dropped 32 percent to 1,019.
Ford said it will produce 725,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, which would be an increase of 7 percent over last year's fourth quarter.
Ford also said its third-quarter production will fall slightly below its previous guidance of 690,000 vehicles with one month of production left in the quarter. Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said the slight decrease has to do with supplier issues.
"We've been managing and working with our supply base on capacity issues all year. That's what's causing a slight change in third-quarter guidance," Merkle said.
Ford said its dealers finished the month with 414,000 vehicles in inventory, a 57-day supply.