Ford Motor Co. bested forecasts for second quarter earnings with brisk sales of its Fusion sedan and Escape SUV, as well as increased pickup truck sales and diminished losses in recession plagued Europe.

Ford delivered a second-quarter profit of $1.2 billion, a jump of $193 million over year-earlier numbers, or 18.5%. On a per-share basis, Ford earned 30 cents, a 4 cent increase compared to the April – June 2012 period.

In a sign that the U.S. economy continues to improve and Ford has figured out the U.S. car buying consumer again, it posted record earnings in North America, as well as China. In China, though, the company is playing catch-up as it still lags more stablished players like Volkswagen and General Motors.

"We are at the phase where we are starting to get contributions from other areas of the world," said Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks in a briefing with reporters. "If you take the operations outside of North America and combine them, they are about break-even--in the first quarter it was a $600 million loss."

The U.S. market, in particular, has been kind to Ford. With projections that the U.S. will buy 15.5 million new vehicles this year, one million more than last year, Ford will be a big beneficiary as it has increased its market share this year by one full percentage point.

Besides better sales and higher transaction prices for vehicles like Fusion, Escape, Focus and F-Series pickup, sales of hybrids are surging for the Dearborn, Mich., automaker. It announced this week that sales of its hybrids reached record levels in recent months, notably taking market share from long-time hybrid leader Toyota. Pickup sales, in general, were up 22% for the first half, or roughly three times the overall U.S. automotive market's upturn.