Mexico’s automotive manufacturing industry stems bleeding

After more than two months of shutdowns and delays, Mexico’s automotive manufacturing industry showed signs of life, producing 238,946 units in June, according to a new report from Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).

The Mexican auto production industry still registered a 29% decline in June compared to the same period in 2019. But the figure is a significant improvement over the historic 98% and 94% declines in April and May, said Fausto Cuevas, director general of the Mexican Association of the Automotive Industry (AMIA).

“Although the sector had a decline compared to 2019, the June figures were better than those reported in May and April. We expect production to continue with this recovery dynamic in the following months,” Cuevas said during a videoconference on Tuesday.

The latest data was part of INEGI’s Light Vehicle Automotive Industry Registry Report released on June 7. 

Mexico’s automotive production industry — which includes passenger vehicles, heavy-duty, light- and medium-duty trucks — has more than 30 foreign-owned factories across the country. This includes automakers such as Chevrolet, General Motors, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW and Volkswagen.

Cuevas cautioned that the industry could take months, or longer, to recover.

“The automotive industry is going through a difficult situation, the domestic market is just beginning to reopen and the foreign markets have not yet recovered the volumes of demand prior to the health crisis,” Cuevas said. “It is clear that we are going to close 2020 with a drop compared to the previous year.”

Mexican auto factories exported 196,173 vehicles in June, a 38.8% decline compared to the 320,470 exported during the same period in 2019.

Cuevas said 90% of the vehicles assembled in Mexican auto factories are shipped to the United States and Canada.

Cuevas added it will take the industry a long time “to return to what we were producing and exporting in the months before the health crisis.”

All Mexican auto factories had to suspend operations on March 30 after Mexican President Manuel Obrador declared a health emergency due to the coronavirus. 

General Motors restarted its factories in Mexico on May 21, one of the first big automakers to resume operations in Mexico.

Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan gradually began restarting their operations in Mexico at the end of May. Ford began reopening its plants in early June. Volkswagen and its luxury unit Audi were two of the last factories to resume operations, on June 16.

Heavy-duty truck and bus manufacturing facilities in Mexico include Freightliner, which has truck manufacturing plants in the cities of Saltillo and Santiago; and Navistar, which has a large truck assembling operation in Escobedo.

Freightliner resumed operations in Mexico on June 9, while Navistar restarted around June 1.

Here are some of the June highlights from INEGI’s Light Vehicle Automotive Industry Registry Report:

  • General Motors produced 74,098 vehicles at its four Mexican facilities.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles produced 45,501 units at its plants in Toluca and Saltillo.
  • Nissan produced 34,926 autos at its plant in Aguascalientes.
  • Ford manufactured 19,991 vehicles at its plants in Hermosillo and Cuautitlán.
  • Honda manufactured 12,890 units at its plant in Celaya and El Salto.
  • Toyota manufactured 12,289 units at its plant in Apaseo El Granda and Tijuana.
  • Kia manufactured 15,450 units at its plant in Pesqueira.
  • BMW manufactured 3,458 cars at its San Luis Potosí plant.
  • Mazda manufactured 8,942 units at its Guanajuato plant.
  • Audi manufactured 2,059 units at its San José Chiapa plant.
  • Volkswagen manufactured 8,942 units at its plant in Puebla.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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