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Mexican auto production and exports are surging as NAFTA talks drag on

  • The Mexican Automotive Industry Association shows exports to the U.S. in 2018 are up 9.5 percent.
  • Auto production in Mexico rose 6.2 percent through the first two months of the year.
  • At that pace, the country is on pace to produce more than 4 million vehicles annually for the first time ever.

While President Donald Trump and his negotiators press Mexico for changes in the North American Free Trade Agreement, auto plants south of the border are cranking out vehicles at a record pace.

New data from the Mexican Automotive Industry Association shows exports to the U.S. in 2018 are up 9.5 percent. That is a faster pace of growth than that of all auto exports from Mexico so far this year.

Meanwhile, auto production in Mexico is up 6.2 percent through the first two months of the year. The country is on pace to produce more than 4 million vehicles annually for the first time ever.

The numbers are not surprising since most automakers have not slowed down production in Mexico, despite threats from Trump to slap punitive taxes on cars and trucks built in Mexico and exported to the U.S.

In early 2017, the president tweeted, "Toyota Motor said will build new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax!"

A few months after that tweet was sent out, Toyota announced plans to expand production in the U.S. It was one of several auto companies, including BMW, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler to announce hefty investments and production increases for its operations in the United States.

While automakers are planning more production in the U.S., they are still expanding south of the border. Both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler increased production in Mexico last year by 14.6 percent and 39.1 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Mercedes is planning to open a plant in that country later this year and BMW will be opening its first Mexican auto plant next year.