Mexican car and truck makers produced 157,331 vehicles in January, an increase of 18.9% compared to the 132,267 units made in like-2000 (see data p.6).

January's increase is significant because Mexican output was at an all-time high in 2000. But it still marked a slowing in industry growth. January's 16.6% gain on December volumes was the lowest since the December 1999-January 2000 period.

U.S. Big Three producers ratcheted up outturn 11.2% in January compared to like-2000, as a 33.7% increase at General Motors de Mexico S.A. de C.V. offset a 17.4% dip at Ford Motor Co. Mexico S.A. de C.V. DaimlerChrysler de Mexico S.A. production outpaced year-ago's 26,747 units by 12.3%.

Joining GM and DC-Mexico on the plus side was Nissan Mexicana S.A. de C.V., which stepped up output 91.4% vs. like-2000. Most of the increase can be attributed to Sentra production, up 223.2% from year-ago, when the automaker's Aguascalientes facility wasn't the sole North American source for the sedan.

Production for domestic destinations hit 45,130 units during the first month of 2001, up 12.3%, while assemblies bound for foreign markets climbed 21.8% to 112,201 units.

In related news:

  • Ford-Mexico begins offering its Fiesta Ikon sedan, with hopes of selling 18,000 units annually in Mexico. The Cuautitlan plant has been making 56 Ikons daily since December. with plans to hit 110 units as exports get underway to Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

  • The U.S. market slowdown is having an effect on Mexico, where the fourth quarter domestic product was up 5.9%. That compares with three previous consecutive quarters of growth above 7%. Growth of 4.1% is being predicted for the first quarter of 2001.

  • The Mexican Stock Exchange reportedly has halted trading shares in Consorcio G Grupo Dina SA for as long as two months because the bus and truck maker said Feb. 15 that it would miss a $6.5 million interest payment. The company meets with bondholders Wednesday (Feb. 28) to begin restructuring talks.

  • President Bush's visit with Mexican President Vicente Fox last week resulted in the two leaders reaffirming their support for creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas as soon as possible. They also promised to begin immediate discussions regarding an open border for trucking.