MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will shut car assembly plants in Mexico for several weeks during the first quarter as the U.S. recession hits demand, the company said on Monday.
Nissan, Mexico's second-biggest automaker behind General Motors, will halt output for 26 days during the first quarter at its Aguascalientes plant, said Israel Ortega, a spokesman for Nissan's Mexican unit.
"We will have to see if these stoppages are enough or if there is necessity for more," Ortega said in a telephone interview.
Falling demand in the United States, Mexico's top export market, is expected to reduce domestic automobile output by one-fifth in 2009, according to the auto industry group AMIA.
If the U.S. recession deepened further, Ortega said Nissan might have to lay off some of the 6,000 workers at the Aguascalientes plant, which produces Sentra and Versa models for export.
The U.S. recession has also infected Mexican consumer spending, and Nissan will also stop work for 12 days in the coming weeks at its plant in Cuernavaca, which produces the Tsuru model, mostly for the local market.
Vehicles and auto parts account for around a fifth of Mexico's total manufactured exports. The auto sector offers some of the best wages in the country for blue-collar workers.
The Mexican government expects the economy will languish in recession during the first half of the year.
"The industrial slump in Mexico is just getting underway," Morgan Stanley economist Luis Arcentales wrote in a report published Monday.