94% of Mexican Auto Exports Find Homes North of the Border

Mexican auto plants exported nearly 1.75 million light vehicles (cars, SUVs, and pickups) in the first six months of 2019, a year-over-year increase of 3.1% compared with the same period in 2018. Of that number, nearly 1.5 million were sent to the United States and Canada, representing almost 94% of all Mexican auto exports so far this year, an increase of 11.2% over the first six months of 2018.

At the current pace, exports of Mexican-built vehicles will finish the year right around the same 3.45 million number that the country exported worldwide in 2018. Some 2.6 million were exported to North America. With half a year still to go, Mexican vehicle exports to the north are virtually certain to surpass 2018 totals.

More than a quarter of the vehicles exported to North America are manufactured by General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) which accounted for about 415,000 of the year-to-date shipments. GM’s worldwide June exports were up 3.2% to 76,690 units.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) exported nearly 31,000 vehicles from its Mexican plants in June and has sent a total of nearly 155,000 north since the beginning of the year. Ford’s worldwide exports are up 17.1% for the first half of 2019, sharply more than the 2.7% increase in GM exports.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE: FCAU) has exported nearly 234,000 vehicles to North America in the first half of 2019. For the year to date, however, worldwide exports have dropped 9.4% to around 266,000.

The Detroit Three are not the only carmakers exporting large numbers of light vehicles. Volkswagen’s worldwide exports in June rose 62% to 47,527 units and year-to-date exports are up more than 36% to 291,101 units.

BMW recently opened a new plant in San Luis Potosi that has sent 100% of its production of nearly 2,300 vehicles to North America.

The story here is that despite the threat of tariffs on imported vehicles from Mexico, automakers continue to build more cars south of the border. A BMW board member told CNBC, “Our production network is flexible, but at this point I don’t see any reason to change our plans.” And those plans call for the company to build more cars in Mexico and ship them to the United States.