Booming car sales drove the Mexican auto industry to a 57.8 percent increase in April.
Mexican factories bumped up production and exported less of it to the United States. And small-car sales - a trouble spot for the U.S. auto industry - continued to increase as Mexico emerges from economic depression.
In April, the small-car segment accounted for 49 percent of the car market. That compares with 45 percent in April 1997 - a difference of about 8,000 cars.
Overall, Mexico saw 49,499 car and truck sales in April, up from 31,370 a year earlier. Car sales hit 34,948, a 75.2 percent rise from April 1997. A total of 14,551 light trucks were sold, up 27.3 percent.
Market leader General Motors posted a 63.6 percent increase in overall sales, due mostly to its Mexican-built Joy/Swing small cars.
No. 2 Nissan reported a 27.2 percent gain. Nissan hiked Mexican output of the Sentra, while the automaker's U.S. plant cut output because of sluggish U.S. sales.
Ford came within just 41 sales of dislodging Nissan from the No. 2 market position for the year. Most of Ford's 34.9 percent sales gain came in April from imported trucks.
April marked Ford's entry into the popular small-car segment with the Fiesta. The company has forecast about 10,000 Fiesta sales this year.
Volkswagen sales more than doubled for the month, with big percentage gains for both locally built cars and imports.
VW turned a large part of its Mexican plant capacity over to building the New Beetle in April. The company produced 6,891 of the cars in April, in addition to 3,702 old Beetles for the local market. But production of the Jetta and Golf declined.