North American auto assemblies edge up in March

Written by David Schollaert

North American auto assemblies ticked up in March vs. the prior month, according to LMC Automotive data. While assemblies were up month on month (m/m), they are down 4.5% year on year (y/y).

The boost in supply over the past year has helped the market progress toward a more balanced state, something it hadn’t seen for much of the past few years.

Assembly recovery and continued improvements in supply during the second half of 2023 have pushed retail inventory levels in March to roughly 2.6 million units. The result is a 5% increase vs. the prior month and a 56% boost y/y.

North American vehicle production, including personal and commercial vehicles, totaled 1.38 million units in March, a 1.5% increase from 1.36 million units in February. It’s roughly 4.5% behind, however, the 1.45 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 March, the growth rate for total personal and commercial vehicle assemblies in the USMCA region is positive – with personal well ahead. The momentum change, however, remains noticeably behind for the personal vehicle segment.

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 0.6% m/m decline in March, after seeing a 5.7% boost the month prior. The result was a more pronounced 7% loss vs. the period one year ago.

The US was the only market to post a production gain m/m, with an increase of 1% or 6,740 units in March. Canada, stood at 9,254 units (-8.6%), while Mexico produced 3,427 fewer units (-1.5%) m/m.

Production share across the region changed little. The US saw personal vehicle production share of the North American market at 66.8%, followed by Mexico and Canada at 22.5% and 10.6%, 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 a bright spot in March, up 7.6% m/m with a total of 369,214 units produced during the month, an increase of 25,988 units vs. February. The gain was driven by Mexico, which saw a 15.5% boost in commercial vehicle assemblies in March, producing 13,340 more vehicles m/m – a total of 99,134 units last month.

The US produced just 11,967 more light commercial vehicles last month vs. February, a 4.9% increase m/m with a total of 256,215 units. March marked Canada’s 29th straight month of commercial vehicle assemblies after ceasing production for nearly two years from Jan. 2020 through Oct. 2021.

Canada also reported production growth in March vs. February, up 5.2% and producing 681 more vehicles over the same period for a total of 13,865 units in March.

The overall increase put the commercial production growth rate at just 2% for the region last month, slightly ahead of the growth rate gain of 1.6% in February.

The market share across the region was largely unchanged. The US was up 0.1 percentage point, with a total share of 69.1%, followed by Mexico with a 27.1% share, and Canada with a 3.8% share in March.

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

Read more from David Schollaert

Latest in Automotive