Archive for September 29, 2010
THE NUMBERS: U.S. new automobile exports to China –
Full year 2000215
WHAT THEY MEAN:
Is the worst over for car-makers? For long-suffering Michigan? Compiling data in the depths of the Commerce Department, the automotive team finds some good news: American car exports are soaring, up from last year’s $100 billion worth of cars, trucks and parts to a possible $150 billion this year, overseas car sales account for more than a fifth of America’s likely $230 billion in manufacturing export growth. More detail suggests the jump comes in part from a natural rebound from crisis, but also from a shift toward more export-minded car production and the appearance of a big new customer.
The Department’s automotive data report that in 2005 American auto plants – including production by Big Three and international car companies — made 11.5 million cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. Of these, 1.9 million went abroad, with 1.15 million going to Canada and Mexico and another 120,000 to Germany. In the crisis year 2009, production fell to 5.6 million, mainly because of the drop in buying at home, while 1.7 million went abroad. If their early figures for 2010 hold up through the fall, production will rebound to about 9.3 million cars and trucks, and exports will jump to 2.5 million.
Some of this reflects reviving sales to Mexico and Canada — but car exports to China are rising at an astonishing rate, with sales quadrupling in a single year. The jump lifts China above Germany as the 3rd-largest American automobile buyer this year (up from 10th in 2005 and 48th in 2000), the U.S.’ largest trade-surplus country for vehicles (though still much more a supplier than buyer of auto parts) — and also lifts China above Japan and Germany as Michigan’s third-ranking export market.
The jump has lifted Michigan state exports by 38 percent this year — the fastest growth among the top ten exporting states. The state has picked up about 150,000 jobs this year; its unemployment rate has dropped from 14.5 percent in January to 13.1 percent in August, and from 16 percent to 14 percent around Detroit. Far from enough – but perhaps a sign that the worst is past.