Increased demand leads Ford Motor Co. to bump Mustang production this year to 192,000 units at its Flat Rock, MI, Auto Alliance International Inc. plant.

The tally is 80,000 units more than Mustang's 2004 output and as much as 25% greater than what the auto maker traditionally builds annually.

Ford anticipates U.S. sales to reach 160,000-165,000 units this year, topping 2004's deliveries by at least 19%. The auto maker also sells the car in Canada.

The auto maker has been building between 145,000 and 160,000 units annually in recent years, but smooth launches of both the coupe and convertible over the last six months are enabling Ford to bump production to absolute capacity for the time being, a spokesman tells Ward's.

Conversely, Ford confirms its other storied nameplate, the Thunderbird, will be discontinued following the '05 model year, although it leaves the door open for future versions of the vehicle.

Production of the vehicle at Ford's Wixom, MI, plant will cease in July, and some 200 blue-collar workers will be shifted to other plants as a result.

Only 12,000 Thunderbirds were sold in 2004, with a meager 1,500 units delivered so far this year.