Although Ford Motor Co. has yet to be heard from and production planners elsewhere are keeping wary eyes on sales and inventory levels, Honda of America Mfg. Inc. is driving forward with a 31,500-unit boost in its North America production slate for the fourth quarter, nearly offsetting the combined cuts by Chrysler LLC and others.

Honda’s production hike, which puts it 9.8% ahead of its earlier fourth-quarter plan and 5.6% above year-ago, results mainly from an additional 22,000 Accord assemblies added to the mix in response to stronger-than-expected demand for the redesigned ’08 model.

Related document: North America Production Schedule Q4 - October 2007

Civic output increases 5,000 units, while the auto maker’s van and cross/utility vehicle volume in the U.S. is slated for a 6,000-unit gain.

The strong October-December finish gives HAM a year-end tally of 1,434,500 vehicles, 3.5% more than in 2006.

Nissan North America Inc. is the only other manufacturer to post a measurable gain in its fourth-quarter plan, penciling in an additional 5,000 car assemblies in October-November, followed by a 1,000-unit cut in December. Truck output is down a modest 100 units in November.

Nissan’s net 3,900-unit gain to 235,400 vehicles still leaves it 22.2% short of the 302,700 cars and trucks built year-ago.

For the year, Nissan’s plants are slated to produce 1,111,200 units, 3.5% shy of the 1,151,900 turned out in 2006.

Meanwhile, Chrysler was set to boost its fourth-quarter plan some 9,000 units – until production planners got a look at its final September sales tally and quickly reversed course. The auto maker now is slating new U.S. plant downtime for October, canceling 27,600 car and truck assemblies.

Instead of the previously slated increase, Chrysler October-December output will fall 25,000 units from where it stood a month ago to 648,400 vehicles. But the quarter remains 5.9% ahead of year-ago.

U.S. car output now is down 13,100 units from a month ago, partially offset by an increase of 7,100 in large-car production in Canada.

Truck output, previously set for an 8,600-unit increase, now is down 19,000 from the prior-plan level, with a 20,900-unit U.S. “loss” in October narrowed by a 2,500-unit Canadian-plant increase focused largely on November.

Chrysler’s output for the year is now set at 2,535,900, a 3.1% gain from 3,459,000 in 2006.

Cuts elsewhere in the industry mostly are on the modest side, ranging from 3,000 trucks at General Motors Corp. and 2,000 cars at Volkswagen de Mexico S.A. de C.V. to just 100 units at Subaru of Indiana Inc.

The output slate for the dedicated medium- and heavy-duty truck makers also has been significantly reduced to 70,500 units for the quarter, down from the 75,900 assemblies planned just a month ago. The continuing lag in new-truck orders means medium/heavy output for 2007 now is expected to total 310,700, a 41.5% decline from 531,400 year-ago.

North American car and truck output this year currently is expected to reach 15,373,900, 3.2% below the 15,877,200 built in 2006.

The year-end tally shows a 2.6% gain in Canada, while plants in Mexico will turn out 1% fewer units and those in the U.S. post a 4.9% decline.