Mexico auto output, exports hit record for 4th year

Employees move a vehicle that has just been painted at Chrysler's assembly plant in Toluca, Mexico, in November. Automakers are expanding production in Mexico to capitalize on lower labor costs that bolster the profitability of vehicles sold in the U.S. market. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- Mexican auto production and exports rose last year to record highs on strong demand from the United States and Canada, the Mexican Auto Industry Association said on Wednesday.

Production rose 1.7 percent to 2,933,465 units while exports notched 2,423,084 units, a 3 percent increase over 2012, AMIA said. The increases mark a fourth consecutive year of records for both production and exports, data shows.

"Mexico again reaches a record figure and again wins eighth place among world vehicle manufacturers," Eduardo Solis, president of AMIA, told a press conference. He added that Mexico was the world's fourth-biggest auto exporter.

Still, auto production missed initial expectations for 2.95 million to 3 million units last year. Solis on Wednesday declined to offer projections for 2014.

Sales last year to the United States, Mexico's No. 1 trading partner, rose 10 percent to 1,646,950 autos.

Exports to Canada rose 22 percent to 194,851 units last year, making up for a 16 percent drop in sales to Latin America, which numbered just 307,581 units.

Domestic sales rose 8 percent to 1,063,363 units.

Mexico's economy rebounded in the third quarter as demand for exports picked up following a contraction in the prior three-month period.

However, in December, Mexican automobile production plunged 9 percent compared to the same month a year earlier, to 164,221 units.

Exports last month rose 4 percent to 161,208 units versus December 2012, AMIA said.



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