North American auto makers produced 1,436,920 light vehicles in August, a 1.9% gain from year-ago.

Car builds totaled 630,915 units, falling 0.5% from like-2012.

U.S. inventory heading into the month was up 18.1% from year-ago, easing demands on production in August.

Light-truck output grew 4.0% to 806,005 units. Significant growth in cross/utility vehicles (up 12.8%) and SUVs (up 13.9%) shored up the segment as production of vans and pickups fell.

The Detroit Three combined to build 770,492 LVs in August. Ford saw 13.0% growth from like-2012, to 267,420 units. Chrysler built 219,518, a 0.8% decline. WardsAuto estimates General Motors production at 285,554 units, down 4.1%.

U.S. assembly plants built 973,276 LVs in August, a 4.7% improvement over prior-year. Year-to-date production was up 5.1% to 7,160,789.

Canadian output reached 206,161 units in August, down 10.6% from year-ago. For the year’s first eight months, builds totaled 1,545,513, down 6.2% from like-2012.

Mexico had its best-ever August with production of 257,483 units, beating the record set last year by 3.2%. Output through August was up 4.5% to 1,978,678.

The month was highlighted by the Ford Fusion midsize sedan officially beginning production at the Flat Rock Assembly plant in Michigan, one year after Mazda6 output ended. The plant also builds the Ford Mustang.

Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, facility had been the only source of the Fusion since its introduction in August 2005. Based on the WardsAuto/AutomotiveCompass global production forecast, Flat Rock will boost Fusion output about 25% to meet heavy demand for the model.

Total LV production in North America through August was 10,684,980 units, a 3.2% gain on year-ago.

eberger@wardsauto.com