Overseas-based manufacturers will continue to shift more sourcing to North American factories, according to WardsAuto’s latest North American Light Vehicle Production Forecast.
The volume from the import replacement added to this month’s revision increases the outlook for 2014 by 123,000 units, lifting the year to 16.2 million.
That puts the year 3.9% above the 15.6 million light vehicles forecast for 2013, unchanged from a month ago.
Auto makers, particularly overseas-based manufacturers, have been increasing North American sourcing for several years. But 2014 will see a big leap, especially because many of the models being added currently are supplied solely from abroad.
In 2014, WardsAuto expectsto add production of a Lexus model at its Georgetown, KY, plant and a Toyota car at Blue Springs, MS. is seen adding a currently imported vehicle to the mix at its Puebla, Mexico, plant.
Also in the forecast for the first time is a new cross/utility vehicle to launch at’s greenfield site in Salamanca, Mexico, in 2014. However, because the CUV is an all-new product, it mostly is displacing production, not creating a big net gain.
Already in the outlook beginning in 2014 is first-time North American production of five other models imported by, , and Mazda.
WardsAuto forecasts 331,000 units in 2014 will come from these first-timers.
Further out,is expected to add one more imported model in Mexico in 2015, and its Audi division will build at least two when its recently announced new plant opens in 2016.
About two-thirds of the first-time import-replacement volume in 2014 will be in Mexico, partly why production there for the first time will reach 20% of the North American total and top 3 million units.
In 2012, with 11 months of actual data in the books, production is forecast to end at 15.32 million units, 17.1% above 2011’s 13.10 million, and highest since 15.75 million in 2005.
Thanks to some unexpectedly strong run rates in November, the 2012 projection is 35,000 units higher than WardsAuto forecast for the year a month ago.
November’s LV production of 1.319 million units was nearly 48,000 above WardsAuto’s forecast for the month, and 13.2% above the year-ago total. Overbuilds from what was forecast by manufacturers included 28,600 units from, 17,900 at and 12,900 at GM. Those increases more than offset underbuilds of 13,400 at and 9,200 at Nissan, among others.
Production in December is forecast at 968,000 units, 5.4% below year-ago’s 1.023 million. However, the shortfall from last year is misleading because most plants have two fewer workdays in December than in like-2011 and are running at daily rates well above last year.
Year-over-year comparisons in 2013 will look weak after the double-digit gains of 2012.
Production in 2012 was driven by inventory-building on top of growing market demand. Now that inventory mostly is in line with demand or even outpacing sales in some cases, production will continue trending upward through most of 2013 but appear to be softening compared with this year.
In fact, production is forecast to fall 1.0% in first-quarter 2013 from like-2012, then return to growth in the second quarter, albeit at a low single-digit rate.