Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it is adding shifts at its truck plants in Michigan and Missouri in response to increased demand for its F-150 pickup trucks and Escape SUVs.

Ford's Dearborn, Michigan, truck plant will return to a three-shift operation in September from two shifts, a move that will boost production of F-150 pickup trucks by about 10,000 this year, the company said.

Ford is also adding a third shift at its Kansas City assembly plant in Missouri in October, which will increase production of Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs by 2,400 by the end of October.

The actions are part of the automaker's plans announced earlier this month to raise production for the third and fourth quarters after strong sales spurred by the U.S. government's Cash-for-Clunkers incentives.

Ford has set third-quarter North American production at 495,000 vehicles, an addition of 10,000 from prior plans. It plans to produce 570,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, up 33 percent from a year earlier.

The Escape SUV and the Focus sedan were among the top 10 vehicles sold under the Clunkers program, while the small Ford Focus sedan ranked third.

Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of marketing and sales, said the company's August sales are forecast to top its July results -- which represented its best sales month of 2009.

U.S. auto sales rose to their highest level of 2009 in July and analysts have forecast stronger sales for August as consumers rushed to take advantage of the Clunkers rebates, which offered up to $4,500 to people who traded in old gas guzzlers for new vehicles.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)