Mexico’s auto production and sales collapse during April

Auto factories across Mexico were closed in April, consequently wholesale and retail heavy-duty truck dealerships reported sales declines of 77% compared to the same period in 2019.

Only 893 heavy-duty trucks were sold at the wholesale level in Mexico in April, compared with 3,865 trucks sold during the same period in 2019.

Miguel Elizalde, president of Mexico’s National Association of Producers of Buses, Trucks and Tractor-trucks (ANPACT) said the Mexican government must allow auto factories to reopen by May 18.

The majority of auto factories in Mexico have been closed since March 30, when Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared a national health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Deciding between May 13 and May 18 will be the difference in saving hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Elizalde said during a video press conference on Monday, along with other representatives of Mexico’s automotive and auto parts sector.  

Truck makers with major plants in Mexico include Navistar International, Kenworth, Volkswagen and Daimler.

The retail sale of heavy-duty trucks totaled 1,072 units in April, a decrease of 72.1% compared to 3,840 trucks sold during April 2019.

“The supply chain is fully integrated with the United States and that is why we must reactivate ourselves as a nation. If not, we put ourselves at risk in the face of competition from other areas of the world,” Elizalde said.

Along with heavy-duty truck manufacturers, Mexico’s passenger vehicle assembly plants also received a severe blow during April. The number of passenger vehicles assembled fell 98.8% compared to the same period in 2019, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).

Automakers in Mexico assembled 3,722 cars in April, compared to more than 300,000 units that were produced during the same period last year. 

Ford produced 18 vehicles at its plant in Hermosillo during April, while Kia assembled 3,704 vehicles at its plant in Nuevo León. Kia and Ford kept their Mexican factories open briefly in early April, before shutting them down as most other automakers had done by March 30.

“There is an urgency for everyone to know when we can reopen operations,” said Fausto Cuevas, director general of the Mexican Association of the Automotive Industry (AMIA), during Monday’s video press conference.

Ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border stand to gain most when auto factories and supply chains are restored.

The import and export of motor vehicle parts accounted for 13% and 12% of freight through Laredo, Texas, in March, totaling almost $7 billion in two-way trade, according to data from WorldCity.

Other U.S. ports of entry that will benefit when auto supply chains are restarted include El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas; Nogales, Arizona; and Otay Mesa, California.

Cuevas said Mexico’s automotive industry seeks “certainty” about when to start operating. In the U.S., most automakers will reopen by May 18. 

“The current situation may lead to legal problems due to breaches of contracts and the loss of clients.” Cuevas said.