North American auto makers produced 1,326,963 light vehicles in February, up 0.7% from year-ago and 2.5% above the previous month.

Car output totaled 598,121 units, up 2.3% from like-2012. Light-truck builds declined 0.7% to 728,842.

February’s result raised year-to-date production to 2,621,849, 3.4% above like-2012.

Last month’s lukewarm increase sharply contrasted with the double-digit gains of 2012, when full-year production finished 18% ahead of like-2011 as auto makers ramped up to meet an unexpected surge in demand and to refill dealer lots following weather-related catastrophes that slashed stock levels.

The Detroit Three built 697,740 LVs during the month. Ford saw a year-over-year increase of 14.0%, assembling 241,408 units. General Motors dropped 9.6% to 268,601. Chrysler output slipped 4.4% to 187,731.

U.S. production totaled 887,517 units in February, a 1.6% uptick from year-ago. The year-to-date total of 1,756,744 was 4.6% ahead of like-2012.

Monthly production in Canada decreased 5.5% to 193,054 units. Year-to-date builds of 376,176 were 9.2% below like-2012.

Mexican plants made 246,392 LVs last month, up 2.3% compared with year-ago. Output in the first two months of 2013 reached 488,929 units, beating like-2012 by 10.5%.

eberger@wardsauto.com