Though a number of foreign automakers have located their North American assembly plants in Mexico, our neighbors to the south are hardly known for producing their own cars under their own names. But performance-oriented startups are trying their best to upset that notion. VUHL is one such notable exception. The recently surfaced RON Automóviles is another. But those who keep up with their Top Gear may be more familiar with the name Mastretta.
Canada is opening its used car market to vehicles from Mexico to fulfill the obligations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While vehicles 15 years old or older can already be imported to Canada, this move concerns late-model used vehicles. The only other country Canada accepts used vehicles under 15 years old from is the United States, and NAFTA stipulates that Canada should have already completed this bit of border opening by the end of 2010.
Mexico hasn't accounted for nearly as much ink as the U.S. and Canada in recent discussions of the auto industry. But in case anyone was wondering, they're in a big hurt south of the border as well. While the American market's decline in auto sales factors in at about 25% overall, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports that Mexico has seen a 30.6% drop in sales volume.
There seems to be little doubt that Chinese cars will hit the U.S. market some soon – the big question is when. At least one automaker is suggesting that Chinese cars will enter America by way of Mexico, with production starting in 2010 and sales in the United States by 2015 after first making the rounds in Latin America and Canada. That date may have been sooner had we not hit such a nasty global economic crisis.