February auto production rises 24% on the year, putting Mexico on track for record output this year

By Laurence Iliff
Dow Jones

Mexico's automobile production in February rose 24 percent compared with the year-ago month to a record 242,317 cars and light trucks, the Mexican Automobile Industry Association, or AMIA, said Tuesday.

Auto exports last month jumped 25 percent to 194,640 vehicles, and local sales gained 12 percent to 74,703 units, AMIA said.

February's production number was the highest ever for the second month of the year and put Mexico's car industry on pace for a record year, AMIA said. Mexico auto output set new records in 2010 and 2011 on the strength of exports.

Accumulated auto production for the first two months of 2012 was up 13 percent compared with the same period last year to 445,018 vehicles, and exports were 10 percent higher to 352,982 autos, AMIA said. Local sales rose 11 percent to 150,000 vehicles in the two-month period.

Although exports to the U.S. make up the bulk of Mexico's auto sales abroad, the fastest-growing region for Mexican-made cars and light trucks continues to be South America, and Brazil is seeking to modify a trade agreement with Mexico to limit its exports.