German luxury automaker Audi plans to build a $1.3 billion plant in the Mexican state of Puebla that will be the company’s first production facility in the Americas, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said.
Some 20,000 jobs will be created during the plant’s construction, which will start in 2013.
The plant in the city of San Jose Chiapa is expected to create 9,800 direct and indirect permanent jobs once it starts operating, Calderon said during a ceremony Wednesday at the Los Pinos presidential residence.
The plant, which will commence operations in 2016, will produce 150,000 units annually “for the entire world” of the successor to the Audi Q5 SUV, a model that has done well and is a leader in sales in its segment, Calderon said.
The decision by Audi, the luxury division of Volkswagen, to build the plant is an “additional boost for the growth of our economy and the creation of more and better jobs,” Calderon said.
Mexico, the world’s fourth-largest automobile exporter, has managed to continue attracting investment despite the “recessionary global environment” because of its competitiveness, infrastructure and skilled workers, Calderon said.
The plant’s construction marks “a milestone in Audi’s growth strategy,” Audi Mexico chief Walter Hanek said.
The San Jose Chiapa plant “will be the most modern in Audi’s production network in terms of efficiency of resources and manufacturing process,” and it will operate with the highest quality standards, Hanek said.
One of Volkswagen’s largest plants is in Puebla and has a production capacity of 500,000 units annually, manufacturing Beetle, Nuevo Jetta, Golf Variant and Volkswagen Clasico automobiles.
The auto plants operating in Mexico exported 1.17 million vehicles during the first six months of this year, a figure that was up 15.1 percent from the same period in 2011, the Mexican Automotive Industry Association, or AMIA, said.
The automotive industry is the most important manufacturing sector in Mexico, which is home to the world’s leading automakers and serves as an export platform for General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota.