Dearborn, Mich. — Ford is on a roll.
Its popular new cars and trucks are grabbing a bigger share of the U.S. 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.
On Tuesday, 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 as the U.S. auto industry slowly turns around. Chrysler has yet to make a profit after a stay in bankruptcy last year. General Motors is making money but losing market share — and still partly government-owned.
“They’re in the best shape that they’ve been in for years,” Gimme Credit analyst Shelly Lombard said of Ford.
Among the company’s stars is the F-Series pickup, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. The Ford Edge and Ford Escape are two of the country’s best-selling small utility cars, while sales of the Fusion mid-size car are up 20 percent this year.
Ford turned a big profit in part because it’s making more money on its highly rated cars and trucks. Buyers shelled out about $30,600 on average for a Ford in September, 10 percent more than in 2005, according to Edmunds.com.
Ford has also been able to cut back on costly incentives as buyers pay more for premium options. For example, 80 percent of people who buy the Ford Fiesta subcompact also spring for the Sync in-car communications system, a $395 option.