Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

US Auto Industry Made Stronger by Increase in Exports


When you look at the surge in hiring for the auto industry in the U.S. one factor overlooked is the fact America has become a huge auto exporter.

In fact, the U.S. is on track to set a record for auto exports.

Look at the numbers compiled by IHS Automotive for CNBC:

Year Vehicles Exported

  • 2010 1.4 Million
  • 2011 1.56 Million
  • 2012 (est) 1.65 Million
  • 2015 (est) 2.02 Million

Why the surge in exports?

Chevrolet grille
Getty Images

Overall, it’s because the U.S. auto industry is more competitive.

Keep in mind, we’re talking about all U.S. auto plants.

The ones run by the Big 3 are more competitive because labor costs dropped and efficiency increased due to changes implemented after the auto industry collapsed.

For foreign automakers, the weaker dollar means exporting from the U.S. is more cost effective.

U.S. built cars and trucks are in demand around the world because we’ve long excelled at building trucks, SUV’s and large sedans. This is why BMW exported more than 87,000 X3 SUV’s from its South Carolina plant last year.

Where are most of the cars/trucks being exported to? According to the Commerce Department, here are the top five countries by value of the vehicles shipped:

  1. Canada
  2. Germany
  3. China
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Mexico

Those countries shouldn’t come as a surprise.

American Autos Back on Top?

After all, Canada and Mexico have long been top destinations for U.S. made models.

China got more than 140,000 U.S. made models (Cadillac CTS, Jeep Grand Cherokee are two examples) because demand for iconic American brands vehicles is strong.

Saudi Arabia received more than 150,000 U.S. built vehicles, primarily SUV’s like the BMW X3.

And among the top 10 countries for U.S. auto exports, #7 Nigeria and #9 Lithuania are intriguing because shipments to those countries are up 32% and 65% respectively.


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