A GIANT step for the auto industry
How are Carlos Slim, Bimbo bread, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, and a Chinese truck company have to do with air pollution in Mexico City? And with “YUUUUUGE” potential positive changes in the Mexican economy?
A small item in yesterday’s El Financiero tells part of the story. Carlos Slim, through his family-owned bank, Inbursa, has become the majority owner of Giant Motors… a new company set up to manufacture Chinese designed JAC autos from a plant in Sahagún, Hidalgo. The Chinese firm has actually been here for some time now, although its FAW trucks are not a huge part of the automotive market either here, or in the rest of North America.
Ok, a new auto company, and a replacement for one (or maybe more) of the US brands that have been bullied into not expanding, or cancelling plans to manufacture here. Not really unexpected that Mexico would go shopping for some substitute investors in the automotive industry.
BUT… as reported in Forbes Mexico edition, there’s a lot more to the story.
The Sahugún plant is owned by Grupo Bimbo… best know for bread and other foodstuffs, but through a subsidiary, Moldex also builds electric delivery vans. Moldex, working with technicians and researchers from ITESM, are reconfiguring JAC autos as a production model of electric taxis, with the huge Mexico City market as its primary customer.
Mexico City has more taxis than any other city on the planet. Right now, our taxis are a mixed bag of aging Tsurus, various VW models, Aveos and Sentras. But, traditionally, there was a standard auto used as taxis, and it was Mexico City’s decision to use VW sedans as our standard taxi that kept the “bug” in production here until 2005, making what we call “Vochos” the most popular auto in the country, if not most of the Americas. Same with the Nissan Tsuru… now being retired, both for safety reasons and because of changing emissions standards… the Tsuru was THE Mexican family auto, as well as the taxi one found not just in the Capital, but in just about every village in the country.
Now… with the local government having already made a decision to go towards electric or at least hybrid fuel taxis (we have a fleet of Leafs, but they’re only starting to show up on the streets), perhaps the GIANT (under I’m sure some catchy name) looks to be our ride… making rich Mexicans richer, no doubt, but clearing the air for all of us.
And, again, as the political left has been preaching for years, turning to Mexican firms to strengthen the internal market, and to reduce our dependence on foreign products.