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Crank Up The Assembly Lines

This is one of those weeks when the auto industry is slowly but surely showing that its darkest days have passed.

The three-year downturn in production is giving way to small, but important increases in the number of cars and trucks rolling off assembly lines.

* Ford is increasing production of its Focus. This after two previous announcements third quarter production would be rising.

* Chrysler has quietly begun to push more product out it's assembly plants after its Cash for Clunker "double down" incentive was a huge success. So huge, Chrysler dealers complained of running low on certain models.

* GM, which reported historically low inventories in July, is looking at how to get more models out to its dealers as quickly as possible.

Cash for Clunkers, and the surge in demand is the main reason the big 3 are starting to build more cars and trucks.

AP

After starting the year with many industry watchers predicting sales of 10-10.5 million this year, there's a growing sense 11-11.5 million is more likely, especially as the economy starts to rebound.

Given the last two years and the fact the auto makers slid towards and into bankruptcy because they kept cranking out cars when they should have been hitting the brakes, people are worried we're heading down that path again.

It's a valid concern. I think the auto companies have learned from the last two years. So far, they are being judicious in their production increases.

But time will tell if they can avoid the mistakes of the past.

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For now though, the auto industry can breathe a little easier. The days of profitability are not far off.

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