Mexican auto sales fell sharply in March as economic and political uncertainty -- including a July presidential election and worries over trade with the U.S. -- weigh on consumer sentiment.
Sales of cars and light trucks were down 13 percent last month to 118,600 units compared to last year, according to the Mexican Automobile Distributors Association. For the first quarter, sales were down 11 percent to 337,229 units.
Auto sales in March and April also suffer from a seasonal effect since Mexico's Holy Week vacations shift from year to year. Auto analysts usually considered the first four months of the year as a better indicator than the first quarter alone.
Nonetheless, consumer confidence has eroded over the last year as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens the trade relationship, and as a Mexican leftist leads in the presidential race on promises to shake up current economic policies.
Market leader Nissan saw auto sales fall 24 percent last month, while No. 2 Volkswagen suffered a 25 percent drop and sales at No. 3 General Motors slipped 18 percent, the distributors association said in a statement.
Bucking the trend were Hyundai and Kia, each with a 13 percent sales increase last month, as they rapidly gain market share after joining the local market in the last few years. Kia is now in fifth place overall behind No. 4 Toyota.
Together, Kia and Hyundai now capture more than 10 percent of Mexican auto sales. Kia opened a massive factory in northern Mexico in late 2016, and now assembles Kia and Hyundai models there for the local and export markets.