* Q1 Cdn annualized production seen at 2.5 mln units
* Higher auto output to add 1.5 pct to Cdn economic growth
* Global car sales up 6 pct in January
By Susan Taylor
OTTAWA, Feb 25 Canada will outpace the United
States and Mexico in first-quarter automobile production
growth, which will add roughly 1.5 percentage points to the
country's economic growth, according to a report released by
Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO).
Canadian auto production is expected to jump to an
annualized 2.5 million units in the first quarter of 2011, up
32 percent from 1.9 million units in the fourth quarter of
2010, Scotiabank analyst Carlos Gomes said on Friday.
That will mark the biggest gain since mid-2009, when the
global economic recovery was just taking hold.
Fourth-quarter Canadian production was down sharply, from
2.3 million units in the third quarter, due to a retooling at
Chrysler's car plant in Brampton, Ontario, Gomes said in an
First-quarter vehicle production in the United States is
seen rising to an annualized 8.3 million units, up 9.2 percent
from 7.6 million units in the fourth quarter and 8 million
units in the third quarter, Gomes said.
In Mexico, first-quarter production is expected to rise 6
percent to an annualized 2.62 million units, from 2.47 million
units in the fourth quarter and 2.54 million units in the third
quarter, he said.
Rising vehicle output will add about 1.5 percentage points
to economic growth in Canada, compared with 1 percentage point
in both the United States and Mexico, the report estimates.
Canadian gains will also come from higher production at
General Motor's (GM.N) facilities in Oshawa, Ontario, Gomes
said. Late last year, GM boosted production of its popular
Chevy Equinox crossover-utility vehicle, he said.
Canada produces one-third of all CUVs assembled in North
America. Last year, CUVs became the largest segment in the U.S.
auto market, surpassing mid-sized cars, the report said.
Production increases are being driven by a recovery in
global auto sales, with January volumes up 6 percent globally
from the same period last year, the report said.
"During the latest financial reporting season, virtually
every automaker increased their full-year 2011 global sales
forecast and boosted their production schedule for the opening
months of 2011," Gomes said in the report.
"We estimate this will lead to a further double-digit
year-over-year increase in vehicle production in most countries
during the first half of the year."
China will lead the global increase in vehicle output, with
full-year assemblies seen climbing 17 percent to more than 21
China will surpass European assemblies in 2011 to account
for about 28 percent of global vehicle output, more than double
its 13 percent share in 2008, the report said.
(Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Rob Wilson)