Japan, the No. 2 source for autos imported by the US since the 1970s, will likely be overtaken by Mexico this year, according to a report from Bloomberg that cites IHS Automotive estimates.
Mexican auto exports have quadrupled from 1993 to 2013, says Bloomberg, while auto output almost tripled as NAFTA has encouraged auto makers (including Honda*, Nissan and Toyota) to move production facilities to Mexico.
We pulled the US import data on Harmonized System (HS) tariff codes 8703.22, .23, .24 (spark ignition / internal combustion reciprocating piston engine vehicles with varying cylinder capacities) and 8703.32 (compression ignition / internal combustion piston / diesel). These are the top categories of cars imported by the US – in fact, as of November, HS 8703.23 and HS 8703.24 were the second- and third-ranked US imports by value overall. (You can download our current monthly reports on the top 25 US imports and exports here.)
Here’s what the trade data shows for the five-year trend in these imports:
Certainly, the gap between Japan and Mexico appears to be narrowing. According to Bloomberg, three new plants scheduled to come on line in Mexico in 2014 will hasten the closure.
Following are the top source countries’ shares by volume and by value based on 2013 through November data (the latest available). Note how Germany jumps to No. 3 when share is measured by value.
* Added February 4: American Honda recently announced that it became a net exporter of cars from the US for the first time in 2013. Honda now ships more American-made cars from the States than it imports from Japan.
While Honda de Mexico produced 63,172 units in 2013 and Honda of Canada produced 408,124, Honda’s US facilities in Alabama, Indiana and Ohio produced a combined total of 1,067,554 automobiles.