The 113,563 cars and trucks built in Mexico in July represents a 17.1% increase from the 97,005 vehicles built year-ago (see data p.6).

That's the fourth month production totals have improved on like-1998 totals. Calendar-year outturn is running 4.3% ahead of year-ago data.

In July, vehicle production stayed healthy, primarily due to export business. Output for foreign markets climbed 39.1% compared to year-ago (81,910 vs. 58,896) thanks to considerable export increases at General Motors de Mexico S.A. de C.V., Ford Motor Co. SA de Mexico C.V., Nissan Mexicana SA de C.V. and Volkswagen de Mexico S.A.

Production for domestic sales declined 16.9%.

GM-Mexico's production totals rose 78.7% vs. year-ago strike-affected results. Ford-Mexico boosted outturn 53.1% (14,701 vs. 9,605). Most of Ford's increase occurred on the car side, which improved 63.8% as Ford shifted production of the Escort sedan from its Wayne, MI, factory to Hermosillo. Wayne now builds the Focus sedan and wagon. Output dropped 28.2% at Grupo DaimlerChrysler Mexico SA's Chrysler unit. The automaker has halted Plymouth/Dodge Neon production at its Toluca facility, which is preparing to build the forthcoming PT Cruiser. The only other high volume manufacturer to post a decline was Nissan-Mexico, down 18.3%.

Production climbed 49.5% at VW-Mexico, largely due to continuing demand for the automaker's New Beetle and a substantial 288.4% increase in Jetta output. BMW de Mexico SA de C.V.'s outturn decreased 46.3%. It makes only cars for the domestic market.

In other news of the Mexican auto industry:

Collins and Aikman Corp. announces plan to move some of its fabric production operations from Michigan to its plant in Toluca, which makes convertible tops for the Chrysler Sebring JX. The company also says it recently signed a deal with DaimlerChrysler Corp. to make convertible roofs for the '01 Sebring JR.