MEXICO CITY - Mexico sales got off to a strong start in the new year, rising 35.1 percent from their January 1999 mark.
Total light-vehicle sales for the month were 62,829. Each automaker posted gains. Among the biggest automakers, Nissan posted the largest increase, up 89.5 percent. Nissan sold 14,819 vehicles for the month, not far behind market leader General Motors.
The Mexican-built Tsuru (the old Sentra) helped Nissan the most. Its sales were more than double those from the same month last year.
GM, meanwhile, registered only a 7.3 percent increase for January. Its relatively modest gain allowed Nissan to pull so close, within 700 units. For all of last year, GM outsold No. 2 Nissan by more than 40,000 vehicles.
At No. 3 Volkswagen, the old Beetle and the Jetta continued to improve, helping the company to a 37.2 percent gain. VW imports, including the compact Pointer from Brazil, are helping significantly, too. Sales of VW imports nearly tripled in January, to 5,714.
Among the other major automakers, Ford's sales rose 23.7 percent and DaimlerChrysler's were up 29 percent.
The year marked a good start for Mexico's low-volume luxury makes. Audi had a 169.4 percent increase, BMW a 135.5 percent rise, and Mercedes' sales nearly quadrupled. Mercedes' gain was due mainly to the A class.
Franz Jung, the new director at BMW Group Mexico, expects a good 2000. 'The economy is good, and all the economic parameters are stable,' he said. 'We expect the total market to grow as well as our segment.'
On the production front, Mexican factories will see some changes this year. One big example is at DaimlerChrysler, where the Neon, Stratus, Cirrus and Sebring will cease production to make way for the PT Cruiser. Another major launch is the Pontiac Aztek and Buick Rendezvous, to be built at GM's plant in Ramos Arizpe.
In January, Mexican output rose 12.4 percent above January 1999. Production for export rose 2.8 percent above the same period last year, and production for the local market increased 46.3 percent.