Mexico’s ability to deal with increased automotive production was one of the hot topics of conversation at this year’s Finished Vehicle Logistics North America Conference. Held at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, California, USA, the conference spanned two days and included featured discussions, special events and networking opportunities.

 On the second day of the conference, Sergio Gutierrez, Head of Mexico at WWL Vehicle Services Americas, was part of a panel presenting logistics opportunities and challenges in Mexico .

 “There are significant port capacity strains, particularly as Veracruz handles nearly 80 per cent of port-based exports from Mexico,” say Gutierrez. “Going forward, more investment will be needed in Mexican ports outside of Veracruz.”

 Along with his co-panelists — American Honda’s Dennis Manns and Steve Rand from Amports — Gutierrez spoke openly about the challenges posed by doing business in Mexico, including lack of port development and infrastructure, trucking limitations and inadequate rail capacity.

“In Mexico, vehicle production is expected to grow from 3 million in 2013 to 4.88 million by 2018, with 87 per cent projected to be exported,” says Gutierrez. “Rail-based vehicle exports from Mexico, which go to the US and Canada, are expected to increase from 1.67 million units in 2013 to 2.81 million by 2018, while ocean volume, which moves globally including to Latin America and Europe, would increase in the same period from 830,000 vehicles to 1.41 million.”

As domestic auto plants continue to experience dramatic growth in Mexico, the panel suggested improving ocean and land-based logistics, such as short sea shipping solutions, to meet the demands of high export volumes. Gutierrez’s insight into the labour force in Mexico — its working culture and values — generated a lot of positive interest from conference participants.