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Cheaper welds, inferior materials, scant safety features all lead to higher profits

The cars roll endlessly off the local assembly lines of the industry's biggest automakers, more than 10,000 a day, into the eager hands of Brazil's new middle class. The shiny new Fords, Fiats, and Chevrolets tell the tale of an economy in full bloom that now boasts the fourth largest auto market in the world.

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.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has announced a Cash-for-Clunkers program for buyers wishing to trade their cars in for something locally produced. So far, 500 million pesos ($37M USD) have been set aside for the program, but Calderone has reportedly said the subsidy could be doubled to one billion if the program proves successful.

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