Nissan was dethroned by one of the Big Three.
In an ever globalizing world, many people have become worried about losing out to other nations in manufacturing sectors, with labor typically cheaper outside of the United States. This concern usually leads people to advocate for “buying American” in an effort to preserve American jobs. However, these people may also not realize that American companies have also globalized to a large degree, and many of the so-called American cars that they want to buy are imported from another part of the world. This is so true in fact that General Motors is the largest producer and exporter of automobiles in Mexico in 2018, according to a report from GM Authority.
Using production numbers from up to November, the three GM Mexico assembly plants had turned out 801,163 vehicles, 67,000 more than last year. This allowed GM to dethrone 2017’s leader, Nissan, with the Japanese company only producing 717,108 units from its four Mexican plants, approximately 71,000 units fewer than 2017. Nissan’s downfall and GM’s conquest were largely due to the bodystyles of the vehicles produced in their Mexican factories—Nissan produces sedans while GM has transitioned to producing solely trucks and SUVs.
This transformation by GM began last year when the San Luis Potosi Plant stopped producing the Chevrolet Aveo, Mexico’s best-selling Chevy, and the Ramos Arizpe Plant ended production of the Chevrolet Sonic. This gave GM the space to start making the new GMC Terrain, and Chevrolet Trax in the former and the new third-generation Chevy Equinox in both factories. This shift towards SUVs will continue when the Chevrolet Cruze will be discontinued in early 2019, freeing up the Ramos Arizpe Plant for the all-new Chevrolet Blazer.
The gap between GM and Nissan is further fueled by the production of GM’s full-size truck twins—the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra—at the factory in Silao, Guanajuato.
GM is also now Mexico’s largest exporter of automobiles. The company exported 693,782 vehicles through November, with the majority going to the United States and Canada. However, trade agreements between Mexico and nearby South American countries also helped GM to export so many units.