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Good - to great - first quarter profit for Detroit automakers

Dearborn F150 factory
Tracy Samilton
/
Michigan Radio
Ford's Dearborn truck plant

Ford Motor Company of Dearborn on Thursday reported a record first quarter profit of $2.5 billion, far exceeding analysts' expectations.

General Motors had a good first quarter too, reporting $2 billion in profit, and Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler made $540 million.

All three companies are benefiting from the boom in U.S. sales of SUVs and pickup trucks. 

Gasoline prices remain low, and automakers have made great strides improving fuel economy  for larger vehicles. 

Because of this, American consumers are shifting from passenger cars to larger, higher-priced SUVs and pickups, to the benefit of the bottom line of Detroit automakers.

Fiat Chrysler is betting it is a permanent shift in tastes; the automaker plans to end production of two small passenger cars, the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200.

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Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.