Ford gains ground in latest quarter

Associated Press / October 27, 2010

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DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford is on a roll. Its popular new cars and trucks are grabbing a bigger share of the US market. It’s about to erase a big chunk of its health care debt. And it’s adding a significant number of jobs for the first time in five years.

Yesterday, the automaker said it made $1.7 billion from July through September, a jump of nearly 70 percent from a year earlier and its sixth consecutive quarter in the black. The news puts Ford further ahead of its rivals.

Among the company’s stars is the F-Series pickup, the top-selling vehicle in the United States. The Ford Edge and Ford Escape are two of the country’s best-selling small utility cars, while sales of the Fusion midsize car are up 20 percent this year.

It adds up to a bigger slice of the US market for Ford — 16.7 percent, up from 15.2 percent a year ago, according to AutoData Corp. It has switched places with Toyota as the number two automaker, after GM, by sales. As a result, Ford said it would hire 500 new workers for a shift at the Chicago plant that makes the new Explorer, its first significant hiring in years.

Ford is also about to pay off its debt to the United Auto Workers health care trust. The UAW agreed to the trust in 2007, and it began paying health care benefits for 195,000 Ford retirees and spouses in January.