Ford Reports Best 1st-Quarter Profit In 13 Years

The automaker said Tuesday that net income rose to about $2.5 billion, up from $2 billion in the same quarter last year and its best first-quarter performance since 1998. Ford sold plenty of F-series pickup trucks and Explorer SUVs. But unlike in the past, when big gas-guzzlers were cash cows for American automakers, it's Ford's smaller, fuel-efficient cars that are driving its earnings.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with Ford on a roll.

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INSKEEP: The Ford Motor Company just reported its best quarterly profit in 13 years. Today, the automaker said net income rose to about two-and-a-half billion dollars, up from $2 billion in the same quarter last year.

Ford sold plenty of its F-Series pickup trucks and its Explorers. But unlike the past, when big gas-guzzlers were cash cows for American automakers, Ford's earnings are now being driven by its lineup of smaller, fuel-efficient cars.

Ford executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr. recently told NPR the company's been preparing for higher fuel prices.

Mr. BILL FORD, JR. (Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company): You know, we took a point of view a few years ago at Ford that we wanted to be the fuel economy leader in each segment that we participated in. And so we invested heavily in fuel-saving technologies. And those vehicles are here now, and I'm really glad we did that.

INSKEEP: Ford showed its strongest sales growth in Asia, and said the disaster in Japan has had little impact on its production.

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