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Ford plans production cuts

Move aims to reduce need for incentives to trim inventory

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. said it would temporarily halt production at 10 assembly plants between now and the end of the year, blaming high gas prices for pushing many consumers away from its pickups and SUVs and to higher-mileage models.

Ford said the cuts will reduce the need for costly incentives to reduce bloated inventories. But they also illustrate just how out of step the lineup at the nation's second-largest automaker has become, as it loses market share to mostly Asian competitors under the watch of chairman and chief executive Bill Ford.

General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group also have been caught in the shift away from trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossovers as consumers seek better fuel economy. The Big Three's combined US market share fell to 54.5 percent for the first seven months of 2006, down from 58.7 percent in the year-ago period.

GM already has said it will cut production 7 percent to 8 percent in the third quarter.

Ford disclosed a turnaround plan in January that called for shedding 25,000 to 30,000 jobs and closing 14 plants by 2012. By year-end, the company was to have cut production capacity 15 percent.

The company said fourth-quarter production would be down 21 percent, or 168,000 units, from last year. Third-quarter production will be 20,000 units below what was previously stated and 78,000 units below last year.

For the full year, Ford plans to produce about 9 percent fewer vehicles than last year for a total of just over 3 million.

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