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Borderlands: Mexico’s heavy-duty truck exports slump in March

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Mexico’s heavy-duty truck exports slump in March; Solar component maker opens Texas production line; Trucks collide near downtown San Antonio; CBP seizes $35M worth of meth in shipment of strawberry puree.

Mexico’s heavy-duty truck exports slump in March

Mexico trucking officials said they saw a decline in demand for heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. during March.

Exports of Mexican-made trucks to the U.S. fell 6.4% year-over-year in March to 12,391 units, caused by a decline in U.S. demand for new trucks, according to Miguel Elizalde, president of Mexico’s National Association of Bus, Truck and Tractor Producers (ANPACT).

“We see a slight decline in the U.S. domestic heavy-duty vehicle market,” Elizalde said during a monthly press conference. “In January and February, we saw a 7.6% decline in U.S. domestic market sales. That’s why we saw the drop in exports for the month of March.”

The U.S. continues to be the main destination for trucks produced in Mexico, accounting for 95% of exports in March, followed by Canada, Colombia, Chile and Peru.

Truck makers and parts manufacturers with assembly plants and factories in Mexico include Freightliner, Kenworth, Navistar, Hino, International, DINA, MAN SE, Mercedes-Benz, Isuzu, Scania, Cummins and Detroit Diesel, according to ANPACT.

Freightliner was the top truck producer and exporter in Mexico for the month. The company produced 8,224 trucks in March, a 16% year-over-year decline compared to the previous year; and exported 7,181 units, a 20% year-over-year decline.

International Trucks Inc. produced 5,954 units in March, a 35% year-over-year increase; and exported 5,290 units, a 29% year-over-year increase.

Kenworth produced 1,334 units in March, a 6% year-over-year decline; and exported 555 trucks, a 24% year-over-year decline.

Guillermo Rosales, deputy director general of the Mexican Association of Automobile Dealers said Mexican truck makers are closely watching the possibility of a contraction in the U.S. economy.

“The concerns of the carriers are focused on the fact that a contraction in the United States economy may occur and affect Mexican exports to that country, and taking into account that foreign trade is the main engine of manufacturing, of the economy, we will have to give timely follow-up to the progress of any event and the impact it may have within our market,” Rosales said during the same press conference.

Watch: FreightWaves carrier update for April 29.

Solar component maker opens Texas production line

Solar tracking manufacturer Nextracker recently launched a production line at a JM Steel facility  near Corpus Christi, Texas.

Nextracker will produce components for solar power plants throughout the southern United States at the facility.

“Customers want protection from steel and logistics cost volatility, and logistics delays associated with shipping, containers and ports” Dan Shugar, founder and CEO of Nextracker, said in a statement. “We are migrating to domestic production to stabilize pricing and achieve superior on-time delivery for our customers.”

Fremont, California-based Nextracker produces hardware and software aimed at improving efficiency and output at large-scale solar energy installations around the world.

Nextracker launched the new production line in Texas at a 97,000-square-foot JM Steel plant in Sinton, which opened in October.

The Nextracker production line will serve markets by truck shipments, with access to three Class 1 railroads (Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern and BNSF Railway) and the Port of Corpus Christi.

The JM Steel plant is on the campus of the new $1.9 billion Steel Dynamics flat-roll steel mill, which began operations in February.

Trucks collide near downtown San Antonio 

An accident involving two tractor-trailers blocked traffic Monday afternoon on a portion of westbound Interstate 10 in San Antonio.

The accident occurred when a tractor-trailer slid and lost control due to the slick roadway. It struck another nearby tractor-trailer, which caused the second tractor-trailer to lose control, smash through a concrete barrier on the upper level of I-10 and hang over the edge, according to the San Antonio Police Department.

An accident involving two tractor-trailers blocked traffic Monday afternoon in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo: TXDOT)

“The impact was at the section where the highways just started to separate, so when the truck struck that lower level, this prevented the whole truck from flipping over and only remained stuck up on the wall,” police told KENS-TV. “The other tractor-trailer jackknifed, blocking all but one lane on I-10. Hazmat made the scene for the diesel fuel that spilled.”

No injuries were reported.

CBP seizes $35M worth of meth in shipment of strawberry puree

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Laredo port of entry recently stopped 1,761 pounds of methamphetamine concealed in a shipment of strawberry puree

On April 12, CBP officers at Laredo’s World Trade Bridge were examining a tractor-trailer arriving from Mexico hauling the puree. Officers discovered 158 packages of meth concealed in the shipment.

The alleged meth has a street value of $35 million. CBP seized the narcotics and turned over the case to Homeland Security Investigations.

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