DETROIT, Ill., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Company's s decision to go global with its iconic Mustang sports car is symbolic of a surge in the export aspect of U.S. auto making, data shows.
Ford this week launched the latest Mustang with presentations in New York, Los Angeles, Spain, Shanghai, Sydney, Australia and Dearborn, Mich., the New York Times reported Friday.
"We're really excited to ship it to Europe and China and the Asia-Pacific countries," said Ford's Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields.
The move reflects the Mustang's appeal, but it also reflects market conditions that have become favorable for automobile exports from the United States in general, the Times said.
Not only are exports of domestically built cars up nearly 80 percent from 2009 through 2012, but exports are up for cars built in the United States, even among foreign companies that have factories in the United States, the Times said.
"It's becoming a more important part of our business every year," said Robert Carter, senior vice president of Toyota's United States division.
Auto exports from January through October are up 9 percent from the same months of 2012.
"We are likely to see a continued growth of exports, as the U.S. has a more competitive cost structure than before, better products and more global platforms that can be shipped elsewhere," said Xavier Mosquet, an auto specialist with the Boston Consulting Group.
It is no coincidence that the surge in exports is occurring during a recovery from a severe recession. International trade dropped sharply during the recession, which means the only place to go was up.
In addition, recessions typically force companies to streamline operations. The last recession forced unions to accept concessions, including lower wages for new workers that should help U.S. cars remain competitive for years to come. In addition, the costs of building a car in the United States have been kept in line by lower energy prices.
Exports are expected to reach two million in 2013, up from 1.8 million in 2012, a fraction of the 15.5 million per year domestic market, the Times reported.
But the numbers for exports are beginning to look solid. Nissan is expected to export 14 percent of its U.S.-built cars. Honda has predicted that by 2014 it will export more cars from the United States than it will ship to the United States from assembly plants in Japan.
Since 2009, U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia have grown threefold. Exports to China have grown fivefold over the same four years, the Times said.