The explosive growth of the Mexican auto industry

Since NAFTA in 1994, Mexico has become one of the world's largest automotive manufacturing countries. This auto industry is focused in largely one region in Mexico, known as El Bajio. The boom has transformed the region, both economically and culturally, and has caused intense migration swings and rampant fuel theft. I will be traveling to the state of Guanajuato next month to report and write about the region as it hangs in the balance while NAFTA gets renegotiated.

These charts are first steps toward showing Mexico's intense growth as an automotive powerhouse. There were nearly 1,000 export comodities in the data set and thus this first chart I'm using to show the sheer number of exports and one of the main labor intensive tasks of this project: grouping the exports.

The exports are grouped into several of the main export classes.After distilling and grouping the exports, the chart looks like this:

The breakdown of the automotive exports shows the vastness of the auto supply chain. The amount of auto parts as opposed to entire finished cars, trucks, and motorcycles is significant.

Where is all this going? The majority is going to the United States. This is significant because as NAFTA gets renegotiated, the cost of exporting to the US could increase dramatically, erroding Mexico's manufacturing advantage.

Typewriters...a fun look at one export that, miraculously, is still an exported commodity in Mexico.

How does this play out on a macro level compared to NAFTA partners? This is an interesting 30,000 foot view of the Mexican auto boom because when viewed in relation to the massive US economy, it's tiny. However, the charts do highlight how export dependent the Mexican economy is and it explains why the NAFTA renegotiation is such a big deal for the country.

The following charts are attempts at visualizing the effects the auto industry have had on indicators of a healthy economy: