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Aug 152016
 

Avid Geo-Mexico readers will know that we included a few paragraphs about the Happy Planet Index in our 2010 book, which we later quoted in this 2013 post, Mexico and the Happy Planet Index.

The latest (2016) Happy Planet Index (HPI), which uses slightly modified criteria, shows that Mexico has risen to 2nd place in the world rankings, behind Costa Rica, but ahead of Colombia, Vanuatu and Vietnam and well ahead of the U.S. (#108) and Canada (#85).

The Happy Planet Index is a compound index that combines four measures:

  • life expectancy
  • well being (life satisfaction)
  • ecological footprint
  • inequality

The HPI looked at data for 140 countries. For life expectancy, Mexico ranked #39, for well being #11, for ecological footprint #77 and for inequality #60.

Global pattern of ecological footprint. Source: HPI report, 2016.

Global pattern of ecological footprint. Source: HPI report, 2016.

The world map for ecological footprint shows the global pattern. The colors show three categories for ecological footprints, those below 1.7, those between 1.7 and 3.5 and those that exceed 3.5, where the numbers are global hectares (gha) per person.

These two sections from the Happy Planet Index country report for Mexico are a useful snapshot of where Mexico stands right now:

What’s working well in Mexico?

In recent years, massive steps have been taken to improve the health of the population of Mexico – notably achieving universal health coverage in 2012, making essential health services available to the entire population.

In 2014, a tax was imposed on sugary drinks with the express aim of tackling of obesity – this despite strong corporate opposition. The tax had already led to a 12% decrease in the consumption of such drinks by the end of the year.

Environmental sustainability is receiving growing political attention, and was included as one of five key pillars in Mexico’s National Development Plan for 2007–12. Mexico was the second country in the world to incorporate long-term climate targets into national legislation, and is taking important steps to conserve its forests and protect its rich biodiversity.

What could be improved?

Significant challenges remain for Mexico: economic inequality is a massive problem with a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earns more than thirteen times as much as the bottom 20% of the population.

Mexico’s poverty rates are particularly high among indigenous people. Amnesty International has  highlighted Mexico’s human rights violations, especially relating to irregular migrants. On top of these issues, the importance of the oil industry to Mexico’s economy complicates its environmental efforts.

Mexico recently reached cross-party agreement on the Pacto por Mexico, a pact of 95 initiatives aiming to tackle some of these issues – an important step for the country’s future.

The HPI attempts to quantify an alternative vision of progress where people strive for happy and healthy lives alongside ecological efficiency in how they use resources. Mexico may have a high happiness index, but (like the rest of the world) it still has an awful long way to go to ensure a sustainable future for our grandchildren.

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The continuing revitalization of Acapulco

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on The continuing revitalization of Acapulco
Aug 082016
 

Acapulco is busy re-invigorating its tourist industry. In recent months, we’ve looked at the city’s improved public transit system known as Acabús and reported the news that Acapulco International Airport is getting a new, state-of-the-art, 18,800-square feet terminal building. The airport’s operator, Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro-Norte (GACN) says the 30-million-dollar terminal will be capable of handling 1.3 million passengers a year.

acapulco-bay-prob-public-domain

Now, Mexican firm Mundo Imperial, the tourist division of the vehicle financing firm Grupo Autofin, has announced a 1-billion-dollar Master Plan to help revitalize Acapulco, Mexico’s first jet set resort.

The plan aims to return the city to its former glory days by renovating the famed Mundo Imperial, Fairmont Princess and Pierre Marqués hotels, and adding several smaller boutique hotels and a medical center, as well as up-market homes and a high-end shopping plaza.

The project also includes an additional 700-room hotel, new tennis stadium, a hospitality training facility and an eco-adventure park. The plan, which will create around 10,000 jobs in total, will take five years to complete.

According to tourism officials, Acapulco’s reactivation as a tourist center is well under way. They claim that the port resort will host more than 40 major conferences this year, and that the city will be a port-of-call for more than 30 U.S. cruise ships.

Next year, Acapulco will once again host Mexico’s massive annual Tourism Fair, the Tianguis Turístico.

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Mexico’s berry exports now exceed a billion dollars a year

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Mexico’s berry exports now exceed a billion dollars a year
Mar 152016
 

Berry production is one of the most dynamic segments of Mexico’s buoyant agricultural sector, and exports of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) in 2015 totaled 1.1 billion dollars, according to preliminary figures.

Last year, 99.6% of all U.S. imports of fresh strawberries came from Mexico and 27% of all imported raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Berry-growing, concentrated in Baja California, Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Puebla, occupies around 25,000 hectares of farmland nationwide and provides 120,000 permanent jobs.

Postage stamp, strawberry exports

Postage stamp, strawberry exports

Strawberries were introduced from the USA to Mexico in the 1850s. Major commercialization of strawberries began after the second world war, following the construction of Mexico’s first freezing plant for berries. The two major strawberry-growing states today are Guanajuato (around Irapuato, “Mexico’s strawberry capital”) and Michoacán, where the cultivation of strawberries is concentrated around the city of Zamora.

Mexico has also begun exporting berries to China, a market with massive potential for future growth.

Berry farming has significantly changed the agricultural landscape of some areas. For example, sugarcane fields around Los Reyes, Michoacán, have been converted to blackberries over the past 15 years, and now supply 96% of Mexico’s total production of that fruit.

Related posts

Geo-Mexico has many other agriculture-related posts (easily found via our tag system). They include posts about the geography of growing/producing Christmas trees, cacao, honey, sugarcane, coffee, chiles, floriculture, tomatoes, tequila, horticultural crops and oranges.

We also have an index page dedicated to agriculture:

Mar 032016
 

To make it easy to search for specific topics on Geo-Mexico, we add an occasional index page as a starting point for the best links relating to particular key topics. Note that the entire site can easily be searched via our search function, categories (right hand navigation bar on every page) and tags (left-hand navigation bar).

The geography of Mexico’s drug trade: an index page

The Basics

Economics:

Drug War Violence and Crime

Drug Money

Other

Index pages on other topics:

Mar 052015
 

The Nava brewery, which started operations in May 2010, was built by Grupo Modelo but subsequently sold in 2013 to Constellation Brands, the U.S. company that holds the rights to import Modelo products into the U.S.

Nava brewery

Nava brewery. Credit: Constellation Brands

Constellation Brands (founded in 1945 and based in Victor, New York) is a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits with operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Italy.

The Nava brewery is the world’s largest brewery of its kind (see this video overview from company webpage), with about 2000 employees and a brewing capacity of 20 million hectoliters of beer a year. A planned expansion (see 26-second video) will increase capacity to 30 million hectoliters.The plant produces Grupo Modelo brands such as Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo and Modelo Especial, under license for export to the U.S.

Where is it?

The beer brewery and bottling plant is located in the Nava municipality in the northern state of Coahuila, about 21 km (13 mi) from the border town of Piedras Negras. It is built alongside highway 57 and spreads over 334 hectares (825 acres) of a greenfield site.

Why is it located in Nava?

The major advantages of this location include:

  • the availability of good quality water
  • proximity to the U.S. border and the U.S. beer market
  • presence of good road, rail and power infrastructure

How does the brewery work?

The brewery is a three-story brewhouse with large metal silos, about 1.6 km (1 mi) of conveyors and four pasteurizers. The facility consists of two brewhouses with malt intake, vacuum evaporation and energy recovery systems, 70 cylindro-conical fermentation and storage tanks, seven clean-in-place (CIP) stations, a yeast cellar with 16 tanks and continuous microfiltration (CMF), 30 pressure tanks and three filtration lines with 1,200 hectoliters/hour capacity each, and a Siemens automated process control system.

The brewery uses rice, barley malt, corn grits and water to produce beer. The feedstock is transported by trains to the plant and stored in silos. A 60 km (37 mi) pipeline connects the brewery to a mountain aquifer supplying about 20 million cubic meters of water a year. The site includes its own wastewater treatment plant.

A raw materials supply system handles the raw materials in bulk and conveys them to the brewhouse, where they first enter a collection bin, and then a mash tun, where water is added. The mixture is then pumped along a pipeline to the cereal cooker of the brewhouse.

Two brew systems consisting of mash tuns and cereal cookers are designed to efficiently use the internal heat. These heaters can also clean them automatically by CIP (clean-in-place) technology. Fermentation takes place in unitanks configured with automated clarification, purging systems and turbidity monitoring. The brewery consumes less than 3 liters of water for each liter of beer. The carbon dioxide reclamation capacity of the brewhouse is about 4,000 kg/hour.

The three bottling lines have the capacity to handle 144,000 bottles/hour, while a canning line outputs up to 66,000 cans/hour.

Filling, pasteurizing and cap feeding is handled by 37 robotic machines. Output is linked to the warehouse by automated trolleys. The automated warehouse is equipped with digisat satellite, a state-of-the-art warehouse management system, and can store about 63,000 pallets.

The high level of automation means that this beer manufacturing and bottling plant has operational costs about 40% lower than the seven older breweries that still belong to Grupo Modelo.

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The geography of dengue fever in Mexico

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on The geography of dengue fever in Mexico
Dec 112014
 

Preventing, diagnosing and treating dengue fever is a major public health issue in many parts of the world, including central America and Mexico. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. Infected patients develop a sudden high fever, usually accompanied by generalized body pain and a skin rash. The pain can be very severe, hence the disease’s common name of breakbone fever.

Several species of mosquito can transmit dengue, but female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the main transmitter of dengue in Mexico. These mosquitoes bite during the day, mostly in the period two hours either side of dawn and dusk. The mosquito bites an infected person and ingests blood with the dengue virus, which incubates in the mosquito for a period of 8 to 12 days. After that the mosquito can begin to transmit the virus by biting other people. From 5-7 days later any newly infected person is likely to have symptoms.

The graph below shows the monthly number of dengue cases in Mexico from 2000 to 2006. It is clear that most cases are reported between July and November, with very few cases occurring between December and May. This can be explained by Mexico’s climate. Almost of all of Mexico receives most of its rainfall between June and October. The mosquitoes that spread dengue need stagnant water to breed. There are far more small pools of water available for mosquito breeding in and immediately after the annual rainy season. Eliminating potential locations where water can collect and stagnate is an important element of dengue prevention programs.

Monthly incidence of dengue cases in Mexico, 2000-2006

Monthly incidence of dengue cases in Mexico, 2000-2006. Source: San Martín, Brathwaite et al (2014).

The graph also shows that the number of cases of dengue was increasing rapidly between 2000 and 2006. Indeed, numbers continued to rise until 2013 when more than 50,000 cases were reported for the year (an average of more than 4000/month). At first sight, this suggests that dengue prevention programs have not been very successful, but in fact the rise echoes what was happening worldwide. One possible, at least partial, explanation may be that changes in climate have allowed dengue mosquitoes to thrive in environments where they were previously scarce. People in such areas are unprepared for dengue; they may not have instituted prevention programs, and may have been slow to receive correct diagnosis. The migration of people affected by dengue from one region to another may also have helped the disease spread, provided there were host mosquitoes in the destination region.

The good news is that the number of dengue cases in Mexico in 2014 has fallen from its 2013 level by about 50%, so the dengue epidemic may finally be on the wane. As of 24 November 2014, 28,109 cases had been reported for the year, an average nationwide rate of 23.47 cases/100,000 people. Dengue is fatal in a relatively small number of cases, with 33 deaths reported in Mexico so far this year..

The total number of cases may finally be on the decline, but the figures for 2014, when looked at state by state, suggest that the spatial pattern of dengue cases in Mexico is changing. The two maps below compare the rate of cases per 100,000 people on a state-by-state basis for 2007 and 2014. (The color-coded key is identical for both maps).

Rates of dengue by state, 2007 and 2014

Rates of dengue by state, 2007 and 2014. Rates are cases / 100,000 population

In 2007, the highest rates of dengue were found in the states of Veracruz and Quintana Roo, with Oaxaca, Guerrero and Colima comprising the next category. (Those five states are the ones colored red on the 2007 map). At the other extreme, no cases were recorded in 2007 in the state of Baja California, or in several tiny states including Aguascalientes.

The pattern shown on the 2014 map is quite different. In general, rates of dengue at the state level have not increased in Mexico, but decreased. However, there is a clear shift in emphasis towards the north-west, where several states had much higher rates in 2014 than in 2007. The extreme example is Baja California Sur, where the rate for 2014 (up to 24 November) was a whopping 549.9 cases / 100,000 people, more than five times the rate registered in any other state. Equally apparent is the belt of low-rate states (from Chihuahua to the State of México) down the center of the country from the U.S. border to Mexico City. These states are at relatively high elevation where fewer mosquitoes are found.

The states of Baja California Sur, Veracruz, Sinaloa, Sonora and Guerrero account for 55% of the 28,109 confirmed cases of dengue fever reported in Mexico as of 24 November 2014.

Mexico’s Health Secretariat publishes maps of each state showing which municipalities have reported cases of dengue. These maps are updated weekly. The link is to a pdf document with maps for 2014 up to 24 November.

There is some good news. In 2015, Mexico will be the first nation in the world to get a new dengue vaccine, developed by French company Sanofi Pasteur. The company hopes to have manufactured more than 40 million doses by the first half of 2015, and has decided to introduce it first in Mexico, with the first vaccinations likely to be offered to the public late next year or early in 2016. In trials, the vaccine proved 60.8% efficient in preventing the disease.

Reference for graph:

José Luis San Martín, J.L., Brathwaite, O., Zambrano B, et al (2014): “The Epidemiology of Dengue in the Americas Over the Last Three Decades: A Worrisome Reality”; Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 82(1), 2010, pp. 128–135

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The market for commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Other  Comments Off on The market for commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico
Mar 012014
 

A recent snapshot of the industrial real estate market in the last quarter of 2013 compares progress in three industrial regions in Mexico: Northern Mexico, Central Mexico and the Bajío Region. The snapshot comes from the report ‘Industrial Markets in México (Q4 2013)‘ by Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services firm specializing in commercial property management, leasing, and investment management.

Cities included in industrial real estate study

Cities included in industrial real estate study (Jones Lang LaSalle)

The pattern of commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico

The five main cities of the Bajío Region (Aguascalientes, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí) are booming in terms of commercial and industrial real estate. In the final quarter of 2013, the region added about 550,000 m2 of commercial and industrial space. This was more than double the additional space added in Central Mexico (Mexico City, Toluca and Puebla) and close to the total amount (614,000 m2) spread between 10 cities in northern Mexico (see map).

In the North Region, “Tijuana has been occupying vacant space… and Ciudad Juárez is on its way to recovering from low rents and high vacancy”, while the automotive sector is driving growth in Saltillo-Ramos Arizpe.

The Central Region is helped “by third party logistics companies that grow their business and footprint in Mexico City’s surroundings”, while “Toluca and Puebla grew mainly because of the car manufacturing demand for space.” Commercial rents rose in Mexico City and in Toluca. “Big Box requirements keep driving this market. Development has been very active at the Tepotzotlán toll booth surroundings.”

The Bajío Region has consolidated “with new industrial parks related not only to the new car manufacturing plants, but also for new investments related to aerospace, food and personal consumer” products.

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The growth of the city of Monterrey, Mexico’s industrial powerhouse

 Excerpts from Geo-Mexico, Other  Comments Off on The growth of the city of Monterrey, Mexico’s industrial powerhouse
Oct 282013
 

A series of historical maps of the city of Monterrey was published earlier this year in the city’s online Catalog of Buildings of Historic and Artistic Importance in Barro Antiguo, The maps, dated 1765, 1791, 1846, 1865, 1922, 1933 and 1947 respectively, offer a good basis for considering the urban growth of Monterrey, the industrial powerhouse of northern Mexico.

In chapter 22 of Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico, we explained why, “Monterrey does not fit the general Latin American urban model as well as Mexico City or Guadalajara. First, it never really existed as a colonial city. Secondly, its development was more heavily dependent on industry. Thirdly, its relative wealth and progressive leadership in some ways make it more similar to a North American city than a Latin American city. It fits the model only in that it developed a definite high status sector in contrast to lower status industrial sectors, and eventually became spatially fragmented.”

But just how did Monterrey develop as a city? In each of the following historical maps of Monterrey, Barrio Antiguo (16 blocks in size in the present-day city) is marked by a red quarter-circle, which is an easy way to check each map’s orientation and scale. Monterrey was founded in 1596. The earliest map in our series, for 1765, shows that, even by that date, Monterrey was still a relatively small settlement situated between a (seasonally dry) “stream formed by various springs” (to the top of the map, north) and the seasonally-dry “Monterrey River” (now called the Santa Catarina River). The Barrio Antiguo is shown as mostly an empty area, with only one major construction.

Monterrey 1765

Monterrey 1765

Very little has changed by 1791 (see map below: note that this map is oriented south-upwards), though the Barrio Antiguo has now been developed, and is shows as having several streets in a clear grid pattern:

monterrey-1791

Monterrey in 1791

The grid pattern for Barrio Antiguo is equally evident in the details of the map in 1846:

monterrey-1846

Monterrey in 1846

As of 1846, no development is shown on the south bank of the Santa Catarina River, though tracks are shown heading east and south-east respectively from the city. The next map, for 1865, shows that the city is beginning to expand to the south. A substantial settlement is developing on the south bank, more of less opposite the Barrio Antiguo. Note, though, that this map shows only part of the city:

monterrey-1865

Monterrey in 1865

Clearly, Monterrey only emerged as a real city after the colonial period which ended in 1821. The relatively small city did not experience real growth until late in the 19th century when it became connected by railroad and started to attract industrial development.

Early in the 20th century, investors built the then largest iron and steel works in Latin America a few kilometers east of the city center. Many related industries located nearby. These industries and the railroad, which ran east–west about four kilometers (2.5 mi) north of the city center, stimulated early industrial development in these directions. Developers established low income housing tracts for industrial and other workers on the east, north and west periphery of the city. Neighborhoods for the wealthier classes were developed south of the city center.

By 1933, Monterrey has grown significantly in area, especially towards the north:

monterrey-1933-whole-city

The city of Monterrey in 1933

Between 1933 and 1947, the city continues to expand, with many areas being infilled with residences:

monterrey-1947

The city of Monterrey in 1947

The city experienced another surge of industrialization and immigration in the 1950s and 1960s. Industrial development continued after 1970 when the national government implemented policies to shift development away from Mexico City. Monterrey became a major producer of steel, metal fabrication, cement, beverages, petrochemicals, food, telecommunications, auto parts, glass, and house furnishings. It also developed into a major financial center and one of the wealthiest and most progressive cities in the country.

Low income housing became a serious problem after the 1960s as the inner city tenements became extremely crowded. The government was not sympathetic to irregular housing schemes, so low income groups established numerous illegal squatter settlements on vacant land near the industrial zone. Government made a few efforts to remove these, but most survived and eventually became regularized.

The high status sector expanded south-west into San Pedro Garza García, which became one of the wealthiest municipalities in Mexico. The high overall income and wages in the city meant that many workers could afford home ownership and private automobiles. As a result, many gated communities (large and small) and suburban shopping malls were built around the urban periphery. The urban area became relatively fragmented with many low income residential zones located near high income areas.

Source of the maps used in this post:

Other posts about the urban geography of Mexico’s cities:

Several major Mexican companies among the “Global Challengers”

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Several major Mexican companies among the “Global Challengers”
Apr 192013
 

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) periodically identifies 100 companies from rapidly developing economies as “global challengers.” (Bcgperspectives, “Introducing the 2013 BCG Global Challengers“).

BCG has identified 100 companies for this list in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013. They focus on companies in developing Asia (excluding Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore), Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Companies considered for the list must have annual revenues of at least $1 billion, overseas revenues at least 10% of total revenues or $500 million, and be focused on building a truly global footprint.

The biggest emerging economies have dominated. In 2006 the list included 44 Chinese companies, 21 Indian companies and 12 from Brazil. Russia was next with seven followed by Mexico with six. The dominance of the big three declined from 77 in 2006 to 63 in 2013. One reason for this is that some of the countries on the list “graduated” from the challengers list to become full global competitors.

In 2013, China led with 30 companies, followed by India with 20 and Brazil with 13. Mexico was 4th with seven companies, followed by Russia with six, South Africa with five, Thailand with four and Turkey with three. Countries with two companies on the list are Chile, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia. Those with one company on the list are Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

The seven Mexican companies in the group are Alfa, American Movil, FEMSA, Gruma, Grupo Bimbo, Mabe, and Mexichem. One Mexican company, Cemex, has “graduated” from the “challengers” list. It is the world’s largest building materials supplier and 3rd largest cement maker. Cemex now operates in 50 countries on six continents and is the leading cement seller in the USA. Revenues in 2012 were $15 billion.

ALFA is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech aluminum engine heads and blocks through its subsidiary Nemak. Its other major subsidiaries are Alpek (petrochemicals), Sigma Alimntos (foods) and Alestra (electronics and telecommunications). Revenues in 2012 were $15 billion.

América Móvil. operates Telmex and Telcel, the world’s fourth largest cell phone operator with 160,000 employees and over 250 million subscribers mostly in Latin America and the USA. Its revenues in 2012 were $59 billion. It is a candidate to graduate from this “challengers” group in the near future.

Gruma is the world’s largest producer of corn flour and tortillas. It has subsidiaries in the USA, China, UK, and Latin America. Revenues in 2012 were $5 billion.

FEMSA, based in Monterrey, is the world’s largest bottler of Coca-Cola. FEMSA also operates OXXO, the largest convenience store chain in Latin America. Revenues in 2012 were $18 billion.

Grupo Bimbo is the world’s largest bread maker and the biggest bread seller in the USA. Among its 100 brands are Arnold’s, Entenmann’s, Thomas’s English Muffins, and Sara Lee fresh baked products. Bimbo is the world’s 4th largest food company behind only Nestle, Kraft, and Unilever. Revenues in 2012 were $13 billion.

Mabe. is a leader in the production of large household appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc. These are sold in 70 countries under the General Electric and Mabe brand names. It controls 70% of the market in Latin America. Revenues in 2012 were $4 billion.

Mexichem is a chemical company that operates throughout the Americas as well as in Europe and Asia. It exports to more than 50 countries, has over 10,000 employees, and earns over $4 billion annually.

Related posts

Mexican vehicle exports surge back after 2008-2009 recession

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Mexican vehicle exports surge back after 2008-2009 recession
Dec 202012
 

The Great Recession related to US housing and banking failures in 2009 hit the Mexican vehicle industry very hard. Production in Mexico declined by 28% from 2.10 million units 2008 to 1.51 million units in 2009. This dropped Mexico to 10th in the world. However, production shot up 50% in 2010 to 2.26 million and grew to 2.56 million in 2011 (data from Mexican Automotive Industry Assn.) It is expected to hit 3.1million in 2012. This enabled Mexico to move past Spain and France into 8th place.

Virtually all of this growth has been in the export sector. In 2011, almost 84% of all vehicles made in Mexico were exported. In fact, sales of Mexican made new cars in Mexico dropped from 1.1 million in 2007 to 0.76 million in 2009. It only rebounded to 0.82 million in 2011. It is expected to increase 11% in 2012 to 1.0 million, still lower than the 2007 level.

In 2011, almost 84% of all vehicles made in Mexico were exported. This export percentage clearly suggests that these manufacturers are primarily focused on selling their Mexican made vehicles in the USA and Canada.

Production is expected to continue increasing rapidly in the years ahead as evidenced by the following recent news releases:

Source of data:

Mexican Automotive Industry Assn. “Mexico’s Automotive Production & Exports Hits Record High in November (2012)”  (pdf file)

Related posts: