Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Mexico exports of commercial trucks jump 277%; Eastek International opens a plant in Mexico; West Pak Avocado will open a Laredo distribution facility; and FMCSA bans a Mexico-based driver from operating in the U.S. 

Mexico exports of commercial trucks jump 277%

Truck makers in Mexico exported 12,892 units during May, an increase of 277% compared to the same period in 2020, according to Mexico’s National Association of Bus, Truck and Tractor Producers (ANPACT).

Miguel Elizalde, president of ANPACT, said the major jump in exports can be attributed to the pandemic closing down most vehicle factories in April, May and part of June last year.

“We see that the figures show a growth, a rebound after a year of pandemic, mainly in May, because we had a very big drop because practically all the plants were closed,” Elizalde said Wednesday during ANPACT’s monthly report on the trucking industry. “We had plants closed because the government didn’t consider our industry essential at first.”

The biggest producer/exporter of trucks was Daimler/Freightliner, which exported 7,981 units in May.

Other top heavy-duty truck producers/exporters in Mexico during May were International Trucks Inc., which shipped 4,265 units, and Kenworth, which exported 646. 

The U.S. was the main export market for Mexican-made trucks, with 94% of total exports in May. Canada (2.2%) and Colombia (1.7%) were second and third.

Domestically, Mexico sold 2,673 trucks and buses wholesale in May, an increase of 270% compared to the same time last year. At retail, truck makers sold 2,763 units in May, a 109% increase compared to May 2020.

Despite the surge in truck exports in May, Elizalde expects slower truck sales domestically the rest of the year due to a government regulation known as NOM-044 that mandates trucks use ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD).

The regulation requires companies to manufacture, import or sell heavy trucks or buses that exclusively use ULSD beginning in January 2022.

Elizalde said ULSD is not available everywhere in Mexico, and truck makers and trucking companies have not had enough time to adjust to the regulation.

“The changeover is scheduled for January 1. We need legal certainty and we urge the authorities to adjust the NOM-044 standards to be able to continue reducing emissions with the current technology, EPA 07 and EURO V,” Elizalde said.

Eastek International opens plant in Mexico

Eastek International Corp. recently opened a $1.5 million manufacturing facility in Fresnillo, Mexico, where the company will make printed circuit boards for global customers in medical, industrial, transportation and consumer products industries.

Officials for the Lake Zurich, Illinois-based company said the advantage of opening manufacturing facilities in Mexico was access to a skilled workforce and the country’s numerous open trade agreements. 

“The opening of our Mexico plant is a significant step in Eastek’s expansion and move towards becoming a true global supplier to some of the world’s largest and best companies,” Bob Gerth, chairman and CEO of Eastek, said in a statement.

The manufacturing facility currently employs 50 workers but could have as many as 500 employees by the end of 2022, company officials said.

Fresnillo is located in north-central Mexico, about 474 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

West Pak Avocado announces Texas distribution center

West Pak Avocado Inc. recently announced it will build an $18 million facility in Laredo, Texas.

The 100,000-square-foot cold storage, manufacturing, sorting and distribution facility will initially create 45 jobs when it opens later this year. The company will employ 140 people by 2023.

West Pak Avocado is based in Murrietta, California. The company has five distribution centers in the U.S. and Mexico. The Laredo facility will be the company’s third in Texas. 

West Pak Avocado sources avocados from 1,000 growers on 65,000 acres in the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Chile.

FMCSA bans Mexico-based driver from operating in US 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Mexico-licensed commercial driver Cecilio Eliut Camacho-Montoya, 32, to be an imminent hazard to public safety after a fatal crash on May 19.

Camacho-Montoya was served with a federal order on June 9 banning him from operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce in the U.S., according to the FMCSA

Camacho-Montoya was at the wheel of a tractor-trailer on Highway 55 in Eagle, Idaho, when he reportedly ran a red light at the intersection of Highways 55 and 44. His truck collided with another vehicle, killing the 22-year-old driver.

Following the crash, Idaho State Police said Camacho-Montoya failed three field sobriety tests and registered a 0.22 blood alcohol level. Camacho-Montoya was also driving with an expired Mexican commercial driver’s license, according to authorities. 

After the accident, Camacho-Montoya was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and felony excessive DUI.  

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