Alabama third in nation in auto exports

Mercedes Benz production line

According to a survey conducted by the Alabama Department of Commerce; Alabama is the third in the nation in auto exports.

Mercedes-Benz is the state’s top exporter, responsible for $5 billion in shipments every year. Alabama exported a total of $7.75 billion in automobiles in 2017, coming up short of only Michigan and South Carolina.

“Customers around the globe continue to seek the high-quality, high-performance products of Alabama’s auto industry, and our skilled auto workers continue to deliver what they’re looking for,” said Greg Canfield secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, in a news release. “The success of Alabama exports, and particularly automotive exports, helps create jobs and transform communities here at home.”

Alabama-made vehicles were shipped to six continents in 2017. China was the leading market, accepting more than $2.2 billion in Alabama-built vehicles exports, a 10 percent increase from last year.

Hilda Lockhart, director of Commerce’s Office of International Trade, said China is a good growth market for vehicles.

“Their GDP continues to grow, and the middle class income level is increasing – thus buying cars,” Lockhart told the Associated Press.

“As for Africa, this market continues to have a growing population and a lot of the people are moving to the cities. The main transportation is vehicles via the roads,” said Lockhart. “If the trend continues, Africa is an emerging market and is home to some of the top fastest-growing economies in the world.”

Other top importers of Alabama-built vehicles were: Germany, Canada, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Australia, United Arab Emirates, India, South Africa, Chile and Saudi Arabia.

Alabama’s Honda Manufacturing plant exports 8 to 10 percent of its annual output of SUVs, minivans and pickups. Exports of Honda products are limited because the plant only produces left-hand-drive vehicles, and some of their models are too large for countries with narrow roads and high fuel costs. Honda’s Alabama products were exported mostly to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, South Korea and the Middle East.

Hyundai’s Alabama plant exported nearly 5 percent of its SUVs and sedans last year. Most vehicles were exported to Canada, while some went to Puerto Rico and El Salvador.