Giant amongst developing nations, Mexico stands currently as the seventh-largest automobile producer in the world (in number of units). It is the fifth-largest automobile exporter (in total value). The Mexican auto industry has grown sevenfold since the 1960s and doubled its output since the 1990s, when it was granted full access to the US market. And much like the US, it’s been greatly focused on the internal combustion engine.
Until recently, that is.
Because, just like in the US, the IRA seems to be causing significant upheaval in the Mexican auto industry, away from the centenary combustion engine and into the electric vehicles and batteries that are likely to rule the global car market as early as the end of the decade. Numbers are still small, but they’re growing at significant rates, and this year is poised to triple the BEV production of 2022.
Mexico’s Auto Production in 2023
Mexico produced just over 3.5 million cars in 2022, a number just below Germany’s 3.677 million and South Korea’s 3.757 million. However, putting these numbers into perspective, Mexico’s production has fallen from an all-time high of 4,664,779 in 2014. Though, comparing that to Germany’s 6,146,948 cars produced in 2011, the country has been closing the distance with the European leader in a similar way to South Korea.
Of those 3½ million cars, only 2% or so (79,471) were BEVs … not a sight to behold, in all fairness. Yet the tides are turning, and Mexico’s production lines are expected to triple this amount in 2023 — over 220,000 electric vehicles are expected to be produced in Mexico, as much as 7% of the yearly production.
And this is only the beginning.
As far as the public information goes, only two additional models will be produced in Mexico this year: the Blazer EV and the Equinox EV (both from GM). Add those onto increased Ford Mustang Mach-E production that is expected. There’s also currently production of a few JAC EVs: the E10X (city car), the EJ7 (a midsized sedan), the Sunray Van, and the ESei4 Pro (an SUV).
The explosion is expected. However, so far this year, the numbers are still low, probably due to Ford’s planned shutdown in January to increase capacity for the Mach-E.
Mexico BEV Production in 2023
Behind the early months, in any case, a Tsunami is coming.
2024 & Beyond
Tesla’s intention to open up a plant in Nuevo León is well known and has already been covered here on CleanTechnica. But Tesla is far from the only automaker eyeing the Mexican lands for new production capacity. Aside from it (and Ford, and GM, which we already mentioned), several others have shown interest:
- Volkswagen: In October 2022, the German automaker announced a $763 million investment in its plant in Puebla, where it plans to produce several electric SUVs. The company originally said that production will start in 2026.
- BMW: In February 2023, the other German automaker announced an $800 million investment in its plant in San Luis Potosí. EVs are expected to be produced from 2027 onwards.
- BYD: In February 2023, the Chinese company announced interest in a Latin American plant, with Mexico being the most likely candidate. No more information has been provided as of April 2023.
- Stellantis: In February 2023, the company announced a $200 million investment in its plant in Saltillo, where the new RAM Promaster EV will be produced as early as late 2023.
- Jetour: In March 2023, the Chinese automaker announced a $3 billion investment for a new plant in Aguascalientes or Guanajuato. The plant, to be opened in 2024, will produce ICE vehicles originally, but plans on a BEV line “in two to three years.”
- MG: In April 2023, the Chinese-owed British brand (is it British still?) announced interest in a new plant in Mexico. The brand has had significant success in the country, being now the 8th largest brand in number of sales after only two years in Mexico, and it plans to use Mexico as a stepping stone to get to the US market.
Some of these investments are aiming for post-2025 production dates, but I’d wager that the realities of a changing market will force them to bring production forward. Others (mainly the Chinese ones, and Tesla, but surprisingly also Stellantis) aim to produce in 2025 or sooner.
The Mexican EV Market
Good times are coming, but so far, the Mexican EV market remains small, with only the cheap(ish) JAC E10X making it into triple digits during the first trimester of 2023. Total BEV market share has a mere 0.3% of the market (which totaled 315,000 units this first trimester).
I said it before and I’m repeating it now: it’s small city cars such as the E10X that will spearhead the revolution in developing markets, at least until price parity is achieved in the CUV and sedan categories. Mexico stands as an example.
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