January was a good month for the automotive industry: both exports and domestic vehicle sales set new records.
Automotive production for the month was up 6.8%, but exports shot up 15.2% to 204,907 vehicles, the first time in history that Mexico has exported more than 200,000 vehicles in the month of January. The previous record, according to Eduardo Solís of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association (AMIA), was 178,562 in 2013.
Vehicles made in Mexico represented 12.6% of those sold in the United States in January, Solís said, a market share that is growing along with that of South Korea. Trending downwards are Japan and Germany.
Looking farther north, another market is also growing for Mexican production. “Canada is a market that continues to surprise,” said Solís: exports were up 35.8% last month over the same month in 2014, for a total of 29,966 vehicles.
The other big news for the industry was the upswing in the domestic market, which has struggled for years due to a large number of used imports flooding across the northern border, and limited access to financing.
New vehicle sales soared 21.3% in January to 103,697 units, 7% more than expected, said Guillermo Rosales of the Mexican Association of Automotive Dealers (AMDA), and a record for the month.
Better financing opportunities, government incentives, lower prices and fewer used imports were responsible for the growth, said the AMDA general manager.
Those imports, vehicles that are frequently referred to as “chocolate” for the color of their exhaust fumes, were down 29% for a total of 455,372 units in 2014, the lowest number in five years. The drop came about due to tighter restrictions on allowing vehicles across the border, such as the rejection of amparos, or injunctions, that had been awarded without justification to many importers.
The result, says AMDA, was the almost unfettered movement of American vehicles that were often stolen or mechanically unsound.
AMDA has been the target of some criticism for its position on used vehicle imports, but Rosales insists that the industry has never sought protected markets or closed borders, only the even application of the law and that importers pay the taxes they are required to pay.
Leading the way in new vehicle sales last month were subcompacts, considered the market leader in Mexico for their accessible prices. Sales were up 35% in this sector, whose most popular models are General Motors’ Aveo, the Volkswagen Vento and Nissan’s Tsuru and March.
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