Mexico Auto Sales Climb to Highest in Six Years as Lending Grows

Annual auto sales in Mexico rose to the highest level since 2007 as car financing expanded and the economy grew for the fourth straight year.

Buyers in Mexico pushed purchases up 7.7 percent last year to 1.06 million vehicles, a trade group representing auto dealers said today in Mexico City. Last month’s 119,364 new-car purchases were the most for any month since December 2007.

The results were buoyed by the number of vehicles bought on credit, which jumped 13 percent during the first 11 months of the year, the latest period for which figures are available, according to the Mexican Auto Dealers Association.

“We’re seeing a rebound from purchases that were delayed during the crisis years,” Guillermo Rosales, executive director of institutional relations at the dealers group, told reporters in Mexico City. “Six years after the crisis, we’re just getting back to the sales level of 2008 and we’re still below 2007.”

Domestic sales may reach as many as 1.15 million vehicles this year, beating the 2006 record high of 1.14 million, Rosales said. The Mexican economy may expand 3.5 percent this year, more than twice as fast as the 1.3 percent growth rate seen for 2013, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Nissan Motor Co. led the market last year with a 25 percent share, followed by General Motors Co.’s 19 percent and Volkswagen AG with 14 percent.

Used-Car Imports

Auto sales would be higher if Mexico imported fewer used cars from the U.S., Rosales said. Mexico’s used-car imports totaled 568,286 during the first 11 months of last year, 41 percent more than a year earlier, according to the dealers association, which supports stricter limits.

“The potential market is 50 percent bigger than what we have,” Rosales said. “Potential demand in Mexico is about 1.6 million vehicles a year.”

Auto output in Mexico climbed 1.7 percent last year to a record 2.93 million, the Mexican Auto Industry Association said today. Exports advanced 2.9 percent to 2.42 million, with the U.S. accounting for 68 percent of foreign shipments.

Production and exports are poised to rise this year following a new plant opening in November by Nissan. Mazda Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are also inaugurating new factories this year.

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