UPDATE 1-Ford adds production in N. America to meet new car demand

Wed May 22, 2013 1:27pm EDT
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* Automakers looking to meet rising demand with fewer factories

* More shifts, limited downtime boost Ford capacity by 240,000

* Ford shares up to highest level in about two years

By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT, May 22 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co is adding a week of production at most of its North American factories this year to build an additional 40,000 vehicles and help sustain its gains in U.S. market share.

The second-largest U.S. automaker said on Wednesday that 20 assembly, engine and other plants will be idled for just one week this summer instead of the traditional two-week "summer shutdown" period.

This is the second year in a row that Ford has taken this step. Ford's U.S. rivals, General Motors Co and Chrysler Group LLC, are also limiting downtime this year.

The capacity boost comes as all three Detroit automakers gain ground in the U.S. auto market, now in its fourth year of recovery after an economic downturn that hurt new vehicle demand and forced GM, Ford and Chrysler to close factories.

Automakers are now running their plants around the clock to meet rising demand for cars. Last year, 14.5 million cars and trucks were sold in the United States, the highest level since 2007, when the industry operated more factories.   Continued...