North American manufacturers were set to record the third largest calendar year vehicle assembly total ever in 2002, according to Ward’s Automotive Reports.

The majority of assembly plants were shut down in the last days of December for the Christmas holiday season, with most of the closed facilities scheduled to restart on Thursday, January 2.

But including estimates for the last weeks of December, including some spot production on December 30 and 31, calendar year North American output should have finished the year at a projected 16,748,604 vehicles, up 5.9% from 2001’s 15,814,166.

It ranks behind only 2000’s 17,658,240 units and 1999’s 17,615,754.
In the US, automakers were scheduled to produce an estimated 12,285,203 vehicles, 7.5% above 2001’s tally, but only the fifth best total ever. The best year was 1999’s 13,024,978.

Meantime, both Canada and Mexico should have posted their third best production years in 2002.

Canadian factories were expected to assemble an estimated 2,629,098 units last year, 3.8% above 2001’s total. Production in Mexico was expected to decline 1.2% to an estimated 1,834,303 cars and trucks.

Of the estimated cars and trucks produced in the US in 2002, General Motors Corp. accounted for 33.6%; Ford Motor Co., 27.7%; Chrysler of DaimlerChrysler, 14.1%; Honda of America Mfg. Inc., 6.1%; Toyota Motor Mfg. Inc., 5.5%; Nissan Motor Mfg. Corp., 3.4%; New United Motor Mfg. Inc., 3.0%; Subaru-Isuzu Automotive Inc., 1.1%; Mitsubishi Motor Mfg. of America Inc., 1.7%; AutoAlliance International Inc., 0.5%; Mercedes-Benz U.S. of DaimlerChrysler, 0.7%; BMW of North America Inc., 1.0%; and other manufacturers, 1.6%.