Thursday, July 05, 2012

Cars.Com: Japan-Based Honda and Toyota Now Make 4 of Top 5 "American-Made Cars" in U.S.

2012 American-Made Index

Rank 2012Make/ModelU.S. Assembly LocationRank 2011
1Toyota Camry Georgetown, Ky.;
Lafayette, Ind.
2Ford F-150 Dearborn, Mich.;
Claycomo, Mo.
3Honda Accord Marysville, Ohio 2
4Toyota Sienna Princeton, Ind. 6
5Honda Pilot Lincoln, Ala. -
6Chevrolet Traverse Lansing, Mich. 8
7Toyota Tundra San Antonio 9
8Jeep Liberty Toledo, Ohio -
9GMC Acadia Lansing, Mich. 10
10Buick Enclave Lansing, Mich. -
Sources: Automaker data, Automotive News, dealership data, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Cars.Com -- "In today's global economy, there's no easy way to determine just how American a car is. Many cars built in the U.S., for example, are assembled using parts that come from elsewhere. Some cars assembled in the U.S. from largely American-made parts don't sell well, meaning fewer Americans are employed to build them.'s American-Made Index recognizes cars that are built here, have a high percentage of domestic parts and are bought in large numbers by American consumers.

The Toyota Camry topped this year's American-Made Index, extending its No. 1 status to four years running. Ford's F-150 landed by a photo-finish at No. 2, falling behind the Camry by fewer than two days of sales. The F-150 was once a common AMI leader, topping the index from 2006 to 2008, but lower domestic parts content had dropped the best-selling pickup off the list. With its domestic parts content back to 75 percent — up from 60 percent last year — the F-150 returns to the AMI for 2012."

Here's something really interesting:

"A globalized industry may mean fewer cars that hail mostly from the U.S., but it works for many companies' bottom lines. Ford's global One Ford strategy coincides with falling domestic parts content in its vehicles. Five years ago, Ford had 20 models with 75 percent or higher domestic parts content. For the 2012 model year, that figure fell to three. Yet the same strategy has helped to bring Ford into the black with 11 straight quarterly profits.

Ford isn't alone. surveyed domestic parts content for the top 113 models on the market, which make up 89 percent of all the cars sold through May. More than 80 percent of those cars — the vast majority of what shoppers are buying — have domestic parts content below 75 percent or are assembled in Canada, Mexico or abroad."

MP: Interesting that four of the top five, and five out of the top ten "American-made" cars are Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda, and also interesting that pursuing an "American-made" strategy might actually lower profitability. Perhaps Japan-based Toyota and Honda are intentionally sourcing parts in America at a higher cost than using Japanese parts for the positive publicity value in rankings like this one, even if profits are adversely affected?  Whereas Ford, as a domestic Big 3 automaker doesn't have to be concerned about the adverse effect of increasing the use of foreign parts, because U.S. consumers will still perceive Fords as being "Made in the U.S.A."

Although the "American-Made Index" is interesting, it also helps highlight how meaningless the whole concept of "American-made" has become in a highly globalized industry like motor vehicles with global sales, global production, and global supply chains. Does it really matter any more that a Ford Focus has lower domestic content than a Toyota Camry?  Most consumers shop on price and value and don't consider domestic content, although 23% of consumers surveyed by last month still say that "they would only consider buying a car from the Detroit Three."  Well, at least that means that 77% of American consumers are thinking clearly about this issue, and shopping sensibly on price, value, quality and service, regardless of the national origin of the automaker or the domestic content.

But the old traditions of driving only "American cars" and demonizing "foreign cars" die hard in places like Flint, Michigan, where you still find signs like these at UAW offices.         


At 7/05/2012 11:15 AM, Blogger seekingtraceevidence said...

Yes, unions believe if they bury their heads in the sand then it will just go away.

At 7/05/2012 11:23 AM, Blogger Moe said...

Think the signs were made in China?

At 7/05/2012 11:45 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

wow. so, not really germane here, but i had never even heard of 5 of those 10 models.

gmc acadia?

buick enclave?

never heard of it.

At 7/05/2012 12:22 PM, Blogger Biff said...

Because nothing spells economic vitality and dynamism like U A W!

At 7/05/2012 12:39 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I am waiting for the paranoid "foreigners are gonna take our jobs!" rant.

At 7/05/2012 12:48 PM, Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

I wonder if I could park my Saturn Astra in the UAW lot? The engine came from Estonia, the 5 speed manual from Japan, it was assembled in Belgium, and sold / serviced by GM.

The car has something like 3% domestic content. Yet the Camry would get towed from the UAW lot while my Saturn, I assume, would be allowed.

At 7/05/2012 12:58 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

What is the car with the highest domestic made content?

The Toyata Matrix at a whopping 95%.

Is it assembled in the U.S.?

Nope, in Canada...

and amazingly, U.S. domestic content includes Canadian made parts under the the American Automobile Labeling Act!!!

At 7/05/2012 1:35 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I understand that AirBus will start making planes in the US!

At 7/05/2012 1:35 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Also reading that article, I came across this little gem (emphasis added):

We reported on total U.S. employment by the Detroit Three versus foreign-owned automakers, but we also tallied every auto plant — assembly, powertrain, stamping, casting and the like — across America that's involved with light-duty vehicle production. GM, Ford, Chrysler and two U.S. startups — Tesla and taxicab-maker MV-1 — operate 75.5 plants. (The fraction comes from Flat Rock, Mich., where Ford and Mazda have a joint stake.) In comparison, BMW, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen run 29.5 plants. But each foreign-owned plant employs more workers. Excluding the Ford/Mazda plant, U.S.-based automakers average 1,382 employees per facility. By contrast, foreign-owned facilities average 2,315 workers per plant.

Here I thought the foreigners were killing jobs, not providing them! BTW, I cannot wait for the Sethstorm explanation for this one.

At 7/05/2012 1:36 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I understand that AirBus will start making planes in the US!

Yeah, I heard that too. In Alabama, I think?

At 7/05/2012 2:14 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

In the UAW universe:

1) Cars and trucks don't have to be American made.

2) Cars and trucks have to be union made.

3) If you're a union member wanting some work done on your house, you are able to get bids on the work and then take the lowest bidder. You don't have to hire union contractors and pay union wages for work done on your house. Only the people that hire you have to pay union wages and benefits.

4) You can put "Buy American" bumper stickers on your vehicle and then buy Japanese and Korean electronic equipment from Wal Mart.

At 7/05/2012 5:27 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

They are not American-made cars. They are American-assembled imports.
When it comes to American-made cars, the list should be limited to the US-built and designed cars from General Motors and Chrysler - where Ford is relegated to honorable mention for their Eurotrash lineup.

A globalized car industry means that cars become unmentionably bad. Buick was touched by that kiss of death and ended up with rebadged Opels. However, Ford has done worse by neutering their lineup to remove any American identity from their products. In both cases, the result is a product that is either fit for some tinpot party boss or as an automotive incendiary device in the Third World.

How about redoing the rankings with non-globalized parts of the Big Three - General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford - and ripping the rest out? That would cut the faux-American golfcarts.

But if you want to rant about appeasing some formless beast that you cant attack(the consumer), I won't stop you from making a bad case. The surveys are based on faulty data.

At 7/05/2012 5:39 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Here I thought the foreigners were killing jobs, not providing them! BTW, I cannot wait for the Sethstorm explanation for this one.

If they were creating those kinds of jobs in the North as opposed to being adversarial, you would be right. However, those companies have largely sought the pliant South as a place to build up a "workers do no right, businesses do no wrong" culture; this stands in contrast to the North that chose cooperation over ltitigative trickery.

I'd like to see the foreign companies follow the lead of Honda and not confine themselves to RTW states. Last time I checked, Ohio has soundly rejected the law and it didnt stop Honda from building and maintaining a large factory in Marysville.

Until then, I have no incentive to do anything except buy the most American-made car from either Chrysler or General Motors. I get a car that is made primarily for the US in mind - that is, not a global car - and isn't funding a company that wants excessive favor to come from my state.

At 7/05/2012 5:44 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

I wonder if I could park my Saturn Astra in the UAW lot? The engine came from Estonia, the 5 speed manual from Japan, it was assembled in Belgium, and sold / serviced by GM.

Not if the UAW was doing their job. They're worse than the rebadged Buicks in that they just slapped on the Saturn label and forgot to do some actual engineering to make it a US car.

At 7/05/2012 5:50 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Ah, nothing like a good chuckle to brighten up one's day.

At 7/05/2012 6:17 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

I mean, first he was ranting about no jobs, then he was ranting how only foreigners have jobs, now he's ranting about how only Southerners have jobs! Panama Joe over here is still fighting the Civil War!

I guess we can add "bad historical timing" onto Sethstorm's list.

At 7/05/2012 7:02 PM, Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...


A globalized car industry means that cars become unmentionably bad.

Ever experience American Made cars in the 70's & 80's? The cars today are far, far, far better than the crap that American car companies put out then. US auto makers deserved the beat down. I still remember the horrors of the shit cars my dad was forced to drive (company cars were all domestic). The Ford actually caught fire one afternoon while my mom was driving it. That was just one of a long list of auto-hell-horrors from the various cars we drove.

As a result of that beat down, they started making better cars.

As for the Astra: I am VERY happy with the car. I drive in urban areas so I wanted a good handling hatchback... something that I can squeeze into a tight parking spot, but you can still put a lot of stuff in. GM, Ford, & Chrysler didn't make one that I wanted to drive. Opel & Mazda (Mazda3) did.

At 7/06/2012 12:22 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

US auto makers deserved the beat down.

Not for 30 straight years.

Ever experience American Made cars in the 70's & 80's?

Not in that timeframe, but I've driven such cars from those times. Whether it was some van from GM that had 220k on the meter and still was running quite well, or some well-maintained land yacht from Ford that ran for quite a long time as well.

Blame the environuts for the bad engineering - not the companies that did well for making larger cars more affordable to the public.


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