North American auto assemblies fall slightly in February

Written by David Schollaert

North American auto assemblies edged down in February vs. the prior month, according to LMC Automotive data. While assemblies did fall month on month (m/m), they are up nearly 3% year on year (y/y).

The boost in supply over the past year has helped the market progress toward a more balanced state.

Assembly recovery and continued improvements in supply during the second half of 2023 have pushed retail inventory levels in February to roughly 1.7 million units. The result is a 3.8% increase vs. the prior month and a 44.7% boost y/y.

North American vehicle production, including personal and commercial vehicles, totaled 1.27 million units in February, a 0.6% decline from 1.28 million units in January. It’s almost 3% ahead, however, of the 1.24 million produced one year ago.

Below in Figure 1 is a five-year snapshot of North American light-vehicle production since 2019 on a rolling 12-month basis with a y/y growth rate. Also included is a five-year snapshot of the average monthly production, which includes seasonality since 2019.

A short-term snapshot of assembly by nation and vehicle type is shown in the table below. It breaks down total North American personal and commercial vehicle production into US, Canadian, and Mexican components. It also includes the three- and 12-month growth rates for each and their momentum change.

For the three months and 12 months through February, the growth rate for total personal and commercial vehicle assemblies in the USMCA region is mixed – with personal well ahead. The momentum change, however, remains slightly behind for both.

Personal vehicle production

The longer-term picture of personal vehicle production across North America is shown below. The charts in Figure 2 show the total personal vehicle production for North America and the total for the US, Canada, and Mexico.

In terms of personal vehicle production, the region saw a 4.7% m/m decline in February, after seeing a 24% boost the month prior. The result was also a 0.8% gain vs. the period one year ago.

The US saw the smallest decrease in units produced and percentage loss in February vs. January. The US was down 11,979 units (-1.8%), followed by Canada, down 14,165 units (-12.8%), while Mexico produced 19,555 fewer units (-9.0%) m/m.

Production share across the region was largely unchanged. The US saw personal vehicle production share of the North American market move up to 68.4%. Both Mexico and Canada saw their share slip to 20.8% and 10.8%, respectively.

Commercial vehicle production

Total commercial vehicle production for North America and the total for each nation within the region are shown in the first chart in Figure 3 on a rolling three-month basis. Commercial vehicle production in the US and Mexico and their y/y growth rates, as well as the production share for each nation in North America, are also shown.

North American commercial vehicle production was up 12.8% in February with a total of 337,549 units produced during the month, an increase of 38,280 units m/m. The gain was driven by the US, which saw a 16.3% boost in commercial vehicle assemblies in February, producing 32,388 more vehicles m/m – a total of 231,012 units last month.

Canada produced 13,184 light commercial vehicles last month, a 13.1% increase from January’s 11,659 total units. February marked Canada’s 28th straight month of commercial vehicle assemblies after ceasing production for nearly two years from Jan. 2020 through Oct. 2021.

Mexico also reported production growth in February vs. January, up 4.9% and producing 4,366 more vehicles over the same period for a total of 93,353 units in February.

The overall increase put the commercial production growth rate at just 1.5% for the region last month, slightly behind the growth rate gain of 1.6% in January.

The market share across the region was largely unchanged. The US was up 0.5 percentage points, with a total share of 68%, followed by Mexico with a 28% share, and Canada with a 4% share in February.

Presently, Mexico exports just under 80% of its light-vehicle production, with the US and Canada as the highest-volume destinations.

Editor’s Note: This report is based on data from LMC Automotive for automotive assemblies in the US, Canada, and Mexico. The breakdown of assemblies is “Personal” (cars for personal use) and “Commercial” (light vehicles with less than 6.0 metric tons gross vehicle weight rating; heavy trucks and buses are not included).

David Schollaert

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