North American Automakers Produced At Near-Maximum Capacity in 2012; Mexico Leading the Way

Feb 14, 2013 09:45 AM EST | Staff Reporter

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Light-vehicle manufactures in North America produced at near-maximum capacity in 2012, a result of rising demand and inventory catch-up, WardsAuto reported.

North American manufactures built up to 97.1 percent of of their "two-shift straight-time" capacity, due in part to manufacturers spreading the work over three shifts a day, the Wards analysis stated.

The 2012 results were the highest since WardsAuto began tracking the data eight years ago, high above 2011's 83.4 percent and the auto industry slump of 2009, where manufactures built to just 51.9 percent of their overall capacity.

The analysis found that of the North American countries, manufactures in Mexico saw the greatest overall production gains, with capacity utilization up to 124 percent from 111.4 percent the year before.

Capacity utilization in Canada was up to 99.6 percent, the analysis reported, up from 80.2 percent the previous year. Part of that gain can be attributed to the closure of a Canadian Ford plant.

In the U.S., capacity utilization reached 91 percent, a large jump from 78.2 percent the year before, the analysis found. The U.S. accounted for nearly two-thirds of all North American auto output.

The report stated that nearly all manufactures recorded higher rates than the previous year, with exceptions coming from a Ford and Mazda joint plant in Flat Rock, Mich. and a Subaru and Toyota Camry plant in Indiana.

Much of the overall production increase can be attributed to plants running a third shift, the report said.

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