Mexico will move to No. 2 vehicle exporter to U.S., pushing Japan to No. 3 by 2015

Mexico's automotive industry is booming. Thanks to several factors including Mexico's proximity to the U.S., the North American Free Trade Agreement (which allows parts produced in the U.S. and Canada to cross the border without tariffs), and the resurgence of the automotive industry after the recession, Mexico is on track to move into the No. 2 spot for the exporting of vehicles to the U.S. by the end of 2014.

Expansions and Greenfield plants continue to dominate the news in Mexico. Nissan recently inaugurated its all-new Aguascalientes, Mexico plant, its third vehicle plant in Mexico. It will have capacity to produce 175,000 units annually with multiple platform flexibility to address growing demand in the Americas, according to a Nissan announcement. Operations were brought online in a record 19 months, raising Nissan's capacity in Mexico to more than 850,000 units annually, a 25 percent increase over what the company currently produces. The new facility will generate more than 3,000 new jobs in Aguascalientes and over 9,000 indirect jobs.

During the new plants opening ceremonies, Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said, "Nissan Mexicana is a global benchmark in manufacturing, productivity, competitiveness and customer satisfaction. The investment in our third vehicle plant in Mexico leverages the world-class manufacturing capabilities of the Nissan Mexicana team and is aimed at satisfying the high demand for Nissan vehicles produced in Mexico throughout the Americas and beyond. It will help consolidate our leadership in the domestic market and strengthen our growth plans globally."

Last week, Honda announced the continued expansion of its manufacturing operations in North America with the production start of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit at a new technologically-advanced automobile plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.  The new plant, representing an $800 million investment for Honda, will increase Honda's ability to meet customer demand for fuel-efficient subcompact models from within the region, said Honda.

The new facility in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, increases Honda's annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units. In 2013, more than 90 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95 percent when the Celaya plant reaches full capacity.

A $470 million transmission plant is currently under construction at the same site in Celaya, which Honda said will "play a significant role in the region as Honda's North American operations take on increasing responsibilities within global Honda for product development, production and sales activities. The new transmission plant in Celaya is expected to begin production of continuously variable transmissions (CTV) in the second half of 2015, with employment of approximately 1,500 associates.

Honda had record production in North America 2013 with 1,781,213 vehicles, and was a net exporter shipping 1,309,917 vehicles from the U.S.  

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