NAFTA trade increased 12% total $79bn for the month of October. Year-to-date, NAFTA trade is up almost 15%. Total imports increased almost 13% whereas exports increased 11.2%.
Although all modes of transport reported good increases, railroads reported the strongest gains in exports, +21.4%, and imports, +15.6% for October. This may be due to the fact that over 40% of NAFTA Canadian rail cargo and 52% of Mexican rail cargo is automobiles. Year-to-date Canadian automobile rail cargo is up over 4% while Mexican rail cargo is up 6%.
According to JD Powers, North American production of automobiles is up 10% compared to 2010. With the average age of cars on the road at 11 years old along with the introduction of new models that are fuel-efficient, consumers are buying automobiles again.
Automobile sales defied the sluggish economy throughout most of the year. For the year, the US big three automakers all reported strong increases: Chrysler +26%, Ford +11% and General Motors +13%.
The three US automakers all forecast continued strong sales in 2012. JD Powers forecasts a 7% increase in North American automobile production.