New on the Market in Mexico

A VARIETY of new trailers, truck bodies, and equipment were on display at Expo Transporte held November 15-17 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

It was the fourth such exposition sponsored by ANPACT, the Mexican association of truck and bus manufacturers.

Mexico's market provided a rare bright spot in North America during 2000 for truck builders. Overall, Mexico's truck market grew by about 10%, with total sales approaching 25,000 units.

Class 8 trucks performed best with a growth rate of 51.4% for straight trucks and 46.6% for tractors, according to Leopoldo Verdugo, marketing director for Mercedes-Benz Mexico. Class 6 trucks dropped 42.3%, and Class 7 vehicles were down 25.6%.

"We believe the Mexico truck market will be about the same in 2001," Verdugo said. "Mexico's economy grew by about 7% in 2000, and that helped drive the demand for new trucks. We expect the economy to cool down in 2001 (to 3%-4% growth), but the truck market should be about the same as during 2000.

"We expect Class 8 trucks above 35,000 pounds to experience the best growth. We see some indications of stronger demand for construction trucks and other vehicles targeted at vocational markets. Only a couple hundred trucks went to construction buyers in 2000, but we expect demand to be in the range of 450 to 500 in 2001."

Tight credit remains the biggest deterrent to increased truck sales in Mexico. Verdugo pointed out that interest rates remain in the 15% range, but the real cost is around 25%. It's just too high for many potential buyers, especially those that are the typical users of medium trucks.

The high cost of financing is a key reason that the average heavy-duty tractor age in Mexico ranges from 12 to 15 years. Approximately 107,000 Class 8 tractors operate in Mexico, and the population is growing.

The prospect of growth has led Mack Trucks to set its sights on Mexico. The company announced November 17 that it will begin marketing trucks there this year, with the goal of winning a 10% share of the Mexican market by 2004. Mack Vehiculos Industriales de Mexico SA de CV will have its main offices and parts distribution in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Dealers are being established in key industrial cities.

Here are some of the highlights from the most recent exhibition:

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