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Record number of Mexican-made vehicles cross borders to be sold in North American, Asian markets

A truck hauls cars through the U.S.-Mexico border at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in California. Courtesy photo

Mexican factories exported a record-breaking 1.74 million vehicles worldwide during the first six months of 2019. 

The majority of those vehicles – 1.37 million – were shipped north across the border to the United States, according to data recently released by Mexico’s Asociacion Mexicana de la Industria Automotriz (AMIA). 

“The United States remains, without a doubt, our main export destination. This is a record number for our country,” said Eduardo Solís, president of AMIA during a press conference in Mexico City July 8.

“It is a historical record [the number of automobiles exported in the first half of 2019],” Solís continued. “The U.S. accounts for 78.5 percent of [Mexico’s] total exports, with Canada being the second-largest destination, with 7.1 percent of the total. Canada is followed by Europe, with 6.4 percent and Latin America, with 5.9 percent.”

The AMIA is a Mexican auto industry trade group based in Mexico City. The group, which was founded in 1951, is comprised of more than 20 vehicle manufacturing companies.

Cars manufactured in Mexico made up 16.4 percent of the U.S. auto market, according to the recent AMIA report. 

“So 16 out of 100 [vehicles] sold in the [U.S.] market are made in Mexico,” Solís said.

Most of the vehicles manufactured in Mexico enter the U.S. on truck-trailers at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in California and Port Laredo in Texas.

In June, automakers also exported 22,606 vehicles to Canada for a 1.5 percent increase year-to-year, and 4,961 vehicles to Asian countries, representing a 20.9 percent increase compared to 2018. China, Brazil and Italy are among the emerging destination countries for Mexican-made vehicles.

The Mexican auto sector is also benefiting from the elimination of tariffs on cars exported to Brazil and Pacific Rim countries when it recently entered into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP as soon as he took office in 2017.

Mexico, along with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, renegotiated the deal without the U.S. and the agreement is now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Auto manufacturers that have plants in Mexico include Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The vehicles with the largest number of exports from the Mexican auto industry are the Nissan Sentra, Volkswagen Jetta, KIA Forte and Ford Fusion. In the light truck or SUV category, the models with the highest number of exports from Mexico are the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Volkswagen Tiguan, Chevrolet Equinox and Jeep Compass, according to AMIA.

In June alone, automakers with factories in Mexico exported 248,592 new cars, trucks and SUVs to the U.S., an increase of 9.2 percent, compared with the same month last year.

June was the second straight month that the Mexican automotive industry broke records. In May, total exports of new cars from Mexico grew 5.6 percent to 304,867 total vehicles.

The automotive industry sent 249,079 cars to the U.S. in May, which represented an increase of 17.5 percent, compared to the same month of 2018 when Mexico exported 205,268 vehicles.

German automaker BMW opened a new $1 billion manufacturing facility in the central Mexican city of San Luis Potosí on June 6. The company’s first Mexican factory will employ 2,000 people and has the capacity to build 175,000 vehicles annually. 

Toyota Motor Corp. is also scheduled to open a new $1 billion plant in nearby Guanajuato, Mexico, in 2020. Toyota has reported it will build Tacoma pickup models at the plant.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]