Ford Motor Co's U.S. sales rose 17 percent in August, a second consecutive month of increases, bolstered by the U.S. government's cash for clunkers incentive program, the automaker said on Tuesday.

Ford also said that its F-Series pickup trucks had a monthly sales increase for the first time since October 2006, suggesting an early sign of U.S. economic recovery.

Ford said U.S. sales rose to 182,149 vehicles for all of its brands in August, from 155,690 vehicles a year earlier. The automaker's July sales rose 2.3 percent, supported by the clunkers program.

Sales rose 16.8 percent to 176,323 vehicles for Ford's core Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands. U.S. sales in its Volvo car unit rose 24.8 percent to 5,826 vehicles, the automaker said.

For its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands car sales rose 24.6 percent, crossover sales rose 28.3 percent, SUV sales fell 33.7 percent and truck and van sales rose 12.2 percent.

The U.S. government clunkers incentive program started in the last week of July and ran for more than three weeks in August before the funds were exhausted. Industry sales quickly tapered after the program ended.

Ford sold a U.S. August record 25,547 Focus compact cars, up 56 percent from a year earlier. The Focus was one of the top-selling vehicles in the clunkers program.

Ford, the only large U.S.-based automaker that has not restructured in bankruptcy with federal funding in 2009, had said that already-constrained inventories at the end of July tightened further in August.

The automaker in mid-August raised its third-quarter North American production plan to 495,000 vehicles, about 18 percent higher than last year, and set a 570,000-vehicle production target for the fourth quarter which is 33 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2008.

(Reporting by David Bailey, editing by Matthew Lewis)