TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Even though U.S. auto sales are close to returning to pre-recession levels, don’t expect to see a new Ford factory anytime soon.

Jim Tetreault, Ford’s North American manufacturing chief, said his mandate is to get more production out of existing plants to avoid the high cost of new bricks and mortar.

“We can always squeeze more. I have never said ‘boss, we can’t get another one out,'” Tetreault said Wednesday at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars.

Ford and many other automakers are leery of adding plants because having too much factory capacity nearly drove them out of business in 2009.

In the past 15 months, Ford has added capacity to build 600,000 cars and trucks at its existing factories, hiring more than 8,000 workers. The company’s U.S. sales have risen by more than a third in the past four years, from a low of 1.68 million in 2009 to more than 2.23 million last year. Year to date, sales are up 13 percent.