Cars in/from/for Mexico

(It is the weekend here and I am enjoying contemplating my retirement in Mexico, in ten more years.)

I was amongst Americans retired in Mexico recently and most of them simply drove their American cars to Mexico. This is not an option to me, as the roads from Saudi Arabia to Mexico are long and difficult.

What cars are made in Mexico? (Volkswagen and Dodge, what else?)

What cars are popular in Mexico?

What cars are good for Mexico? (Fuel economy, durability, parts availability)?

What are your thoughts on this?

Here is a pretty good article on car manufacturing in Mexico. It is a very important part of their economy.

[Scoopy Doo Voice] Thanks Snaggy! [/Scooby Doo Voice]

A single, gentle bump.

Interestingly you can see my location in my profile, and I’ll add that I work for one of the American Big 2.5. It also so happens that I’ve worked for the other whole number in the Big 2.5 in Mexico as well.

Manufacturing: So, Ford, GM, and Chrysler all manufacture there. Nissan has a huge presence. VW is there, too, as you mentioned. The link pretty much describes the importance of manufacturing.

Popular cars include Nissans. I see a lot more of them in Mexico than anywhere I’ve been in the US. There are lots of GM cars (Chevy is typical), Chryslers (Neon is typical), and of course Fords (Focus is typical). Lots of VW’s (Golf is typical, I think they have another name these days). Tsuru is the popular Nissan. As you see, the cars are generally very tiny compared to in the US, even for middle class drivers. They cost significantly more, so that’s a good reason. Of course American SUV’s are popular, too, as are minivans. Actually, other than some of the very, very tiny cars (like the Chevy and some new Korean mini-mini-mini car), some extra VW Beetles, and a fair share of old junkers, you don’t really realize that you’re outside of the USA, car wise.

I’ll reiterate again that cars are expensive in Mexico. New cars cost more probably due to taxes. Used cars there also seem to be a lot more expensive than here in the 'States. This actually leads to the “chocolate” problem, whereby Mexicans (or Americans) sneak US cars into Mexico without paying taxes on them. Some $900 special that would cost $2500 in Mexico means a lot to a lower middle class family (the poor just don’t have cars, and the middle class is about 30% of the population). This influences what you have to do to get a car in.

Mexico has a special economic zone on the border which extends about 20km into Mexico. So this makes Mexico kind of have an internal customs system. To get into the border zone, you can just drive on in. Immigration will wave you through, customs you’ll get a RED or GREEN light as to whether you’ll be inspected for contraband, and then you don’t really have to do anything else. If you want go go beyond the border zone, then, you’ll have to get your immigration visa and temporary import tag for the car. The visa’s pretty much the same thing as you’d get on a plane, and FMV it’s called. The car permission requires a small fee, plus either (1) a cash deposit, the amount which varies on the year of the car, up to $400, or (2) just leave them a credit card number. It’s done at a bank, so it’s safe (no fraud or anything). Once you have this, you get on the highway out of town, and come to the internal customs where you’ll present your papers to get out of the border zone. Oh, the visa and car permission are 6 months, if I recall correctly. You must return the car to an immigration facility or consulate in the US to turn in the car permission, else you foreit your deposit (or get it charged to your credit card).

Highways, then – always pay for the pay road when you have a choice. The roads are better, freer, patrolled by private security (honest private security), and patrolled by the Angels to help you in the case of a breakdown (there’s always an English-speaker with them), and the toll includes insurance for your vehicle while travelling on the highway (you still want regular insurance policy too, though).

Hopefully in 10 years or so you can visit the Gringo Plumiento and have a good, fresh, micro-brew. You know, unless Saudi Arabia’s dried you out.

Not hardly likely!

By the time you retire in 10 years, the rules on cars under NAFTA will be completely different so there’s really no point in going into great detail right now.

As far as vehicles being so much more expensive in Mexico it really depends on the make and model. Some, like the Nissan Tsuru and Sentras are made here. As are VW’s. For an example of cost, I bought my daughter a new, built in Mexico, VW Jetta with AC/automatic/aluminum wheels/airbags (not required by law here) for $162,000 pesos or approx. $15,000usd.

Balthisar, the chocolate problem wasn’t so much cars being snuck into the country as it was cars entering legally but not being taken back out of the country when their temporary import permit expired.

BTW, how does your wife like being back in Mexico?

Good point – NAFTA’s still not phased completely in. It’s a bit by bit process, and that’s 100% of what I know about NAFTA :wink:

Yeah, but the Tsurus and Sentras aren’t available in the US. The Sentra used to be. The Jetta, though, it more reasonably priced in Mexico than in the US, but I think that’s just because the Jetta can charge more in the US. It’s like the price difference between a Lincoln and comparable Mercedes. The name drives a lot. ALL Volkswagens seem overpriced to me in the United States. But for equivilent imported or even domestic-made “US” cars, they’re typically more expensive in Mexico than in the US – check out the Suburban and its bretheren, the Escort, the Focus, the Aztec. They all cost substantially more in Mexico than in the US.

You’re right, of course. But now that there’s this deposit, they have to be snuck in :).

Well, Sonora’s not Guanajuato… and now we’re in Florida! We weren’t in Sonora for two weeks when I got sent here (and drug her along). Just a training mission; we’ll be back in Hermosillo very soon. In any case, she says “Donde sea en México” (which just doesn’t adequately translate into English for you non-Spanish-speaking 'Dopers).

I must mention how impressed I am by the quality of the replies from my fellow dopers. Thanks.

(Am I the only one who really likes the VW Combi? It is not available in the States, but I may get one here.)

You can check out prices here: Guadalajara Car Price Guide. For any other Dopers interested, divide the prices by 11 to get the dollar price.

The deposit is no big deal. Like you mentioned before it’s only a maximum of $400usd or a credit card deposit of roughly $20usd. It is pretty difficult for someone to sneak a car into the interior without proper papers. Besides the Aduana checkpoint at 26km there are other checkpoints, fixed and mobile, on all highways going into the interior.

Since Jan 1 of this year all import duties on new cars made in the NAFTA countries were eliminated. But you still must pay IVA (Value Added Tax) and Tenencia (a national automobile tax) and all other registration and licensing fees. And that’s on top of all the paperwork needed.