Increasing U.S. Auto Exports

The automotive industry has traditionally been one of the largest employers in the United States, and, therefore, the industry’s recovery has been a great contributor to increases in employment and the overall U.S. economic recovery. In total, according to the Center for Automotive Research, the U.S. auto industry indirectly supports 7.25 million private sector jobs, almost $500 billion in annual compensation, and nearly $65 billion in personal tax revenues.

According to the U.S. International Trade Administration.In 2009, the United States exported 1.01 million passenger vehicles throughout the world. The number of exports increased to 1.39 million vehicles in 2010, and by 2014 the number of vehicles exported totaled 2.11 million. In terms of dollar value, U.S. vehicle exports increased 138 percent from $24.2 billion in 2009 to over $57 billion in 2014. Given that the automotive industry is the largest manufactured goods export sector, the success of the U.S. automotive industry (vehicles and parts) plays a critical role towards increasing overall U.S. exports.

The 2.1 million cars exported represent about 18% of all U.S. new-vehicle production last year, according to data provider Wards Auto. U.S. light-vehicle production was 11.4 million in 2014. And the U.S. is still a big importer of foreign-made cars and SUVs. The U.S. auto trade deficit was about $109.4 billion last year.

In 2014, the top five export markets for light vehicles (by units) assembled in the United States were: Canada, China, Mexico, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. Exports to non-NAFTA countries have nearly tripled since 2009, rising from 336,897 units to 1,085,353 units in 2014. Exports to Canada and Mexico were almost 49 percent of U.S. total light vehicle exports. In 2009, U.S. light vehicle exports were valued at $24.2 billion dollars, while by 2013 it had increased to over $52 billion. In 2014, exports rose again to over $57 billion.

Since 2009, the value of light vehicle exports to Canada has increased 73 percent to over $21 billion, followed by China (204% increase to $9.7 billion), Germany (19% increase to $5.2 billion), Saudi Arabia (180% increase to $3.2 billion), and Mexico (77% increase to $3.2 billion). While Mexico purchases a higher number of vehicles from the United States, the reason it slips to 5th place in terms of value is consumers in Mexico appear to buy more economy models whereas consumers in Germany, China, and Saudi Arabia likely are buying more expensive luxury models and SUVs.

In 2014, GM exported 233,145 vehicles from the United States, with Canada being its largest export market. GM exported almost 158,000 vehicles in 2014 to Canada. GM’s second largest export destination was the Middle East, where it exported 44,356 units in 2014.

A goal of the National Export Initiative (NEI) was to double the value of 2009 exports within five years in order to support U.S. jobs. A look at the export data shows that the auto sector achieved this goal. In 2009, 1,009,042 new light-vehicles were exported from the United States. Exports grew to 2,107,280 units in 2014.

These trends illustrate that the U.S. automotive industry is making a significant contribution to the success of the NEI. In addition, the United States is engaged in negotiations over new trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As the U.S. goal of these agreements is to promote U.S. international competiveness, jobs, and growth, there could be additional opportunities for the U.S. automotive industry to continue its growth in exports going forward.