By on June 23, 2010

These are the ten vehicles that NHTSA says are made from 90 percent domestically-produced components [via cars.com]. Notice a common thread there? Yes, the correct answer is Ford involvement, but according to cars.com, the task of crowning a “king of domestic content” isn’t as simple as NHTSA’s number.

Cars.com doesn’t give away the secret recipe for its American Made Index, but it says that it weighs parts content (minimum requirement: 75 percent) against sales to find the maximum economic impact. It also models excludes vehicles built exclusively outside the U.S. or models that are being phased out (akaTown Car, and the Mercurys). Here is the top of their list for 2010:

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29 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Domestic Content Edition...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Ed, where’s the Cars.com list?

    Oh well, I went and checked it out. Reminds me of the guy my dad worked with (deep in midwestern farm country) who everytime someone gave him shit for driving a “Jap car” (Honda Accord) he would show the “Made in the USA” “Marysville, OH” sticker.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    OK fine my orginal is awaiting moderation cause I used a “naughty” word. I’m feeling like Craig Ferguson now.

    If you actually go to cars.com and look at their list, you’ll see that cars made in North America do pretty well, although US and Canada ahead of Mexican made vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      You won’t be moderated unless you flame the site or other user.

      I’ve seen the same “Your comments ia awaiting moderation” more than once…

      I like being politically incorrect :D

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    “Cars.com doesn’t give away the secret recipe for its American Made Index”.

    This is the primary problem of Cars.com, JD Power, Consumer Reports, and TrueDelta (eh, Michael?)–the raw data and methods are locked up and not subject to independent verification let alone replication and–God-forbid–peer review. The press release is all we get to see. Apparently we must trust their judgments and analysis since we cannot see their data. As much as I respect Consumer Reports and JD Power (can’t say about TrueDelta as I am not privy to its analysis), their conclusions should only be considered as reputable as the openness of their data.

    Michael: Free your data. Set a precedent.

  • avatar
    obbop

    “What Are the Top American-Made Cars?
    Cars.com’s American-Made Index rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include sales, where the car’s parts are made and whether the car is assembled in the U.S. Models that have been discontinued are disqualified, as are those with a domestic-parts content rating below 75 percent.”

    Chevrolet Silverado 1500*** Fort Wayne, Ind.
    ***Excludes hybrid models, which are broken out separately

    Current rank: 5. Last ranking: 8

    The main reason I bought my Silverado in 2004. Made at the Ft Wayne plant.

    I did my part to help the “home team” but learned a valuable lesson and will never allow emotions to ever again influence a purchasing decision above the pocket-change level.

    Live and learn or so I have heard/read.

    http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&subject=ami&story=amMade0709

  • avatar
    Steven02

    There is one big reason not to like this list, an arbitrary cut off at 75%. I don’t understand how this list can have a cut off at all if it is trying to incorporate sales into this mix somehow. Really, if a vehicle with 74.9% (I don’t know if they allow rounding) had a huge amount of sales, its impact on the economy would be greater than another vehicle with 75% content, but small sales.

    Either way, I always think that domestic parts content is the correct way to measure how American a car is. I don’t use this when I am shopping for cars.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Partsunknown –

      Actually I was making the argument as a car buyer. Ford isn’t the only one who assembles vehicles in Mexico. While the assembly does bring revenue to the local economy, even if a vehicle is assembled in Mexico, a lot of the parts are made in the US, and all of the marketing for the US is done in the US.

      We are never going to rebuild the economy by focussing on entry level manufacturing jobs. There will always be a China, India, Mexico, or other developing nation that will undercut the price that something can be built for here. What we need to focus on are the skilled jobs. – engineering and developing the best vehicles in the world and making use of the huge pool of talent we have in our higher education system, which is the best in the world.

      The Chinese might be able to put the car together cheaper than we can, but they can’t style it for American sensibilities like we can, they don’t have the same level of engineering skill we do, and just recently catching on to the idea of capitalism they aren’t nearly as good at marketing.

      It makes sense for American companies to play to their own strengths, and make use of the benefits of international trade to get cheap labor where they can.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      NulloModo –

      Very well stated, and I don’t disagree with a thing in that post.

      What bothers me is the “profits go back to Japan” argument, which is a red herring, in my opinion.

      My 2008 Ford Taurus X was built in Illinois and has, I believe, 85% domestic parts content. My 2010 Honda Accord has 75% domestic parts content. It was also designed and engineered for the American market, in America, and built in Ohio.

      Try telling the assembly line workers in Marsyville, or the American Honda R&D guys, that their baby isn’t “American”. I think they’d disagree, along with their families and other ancillary businesses that reap the benefits of Honda’s presence in the US.

      If HMC, uses the net income from its operations in the US to maintain and enhance its presence here, and keep thousands of Americans employed with well-paying jobs, then I’m all for it.

      In any event, as I’ve stated in previous posts, I am not deluded enough to buy a car based on its nationality. I buy the best car for my money, country of origin, parts content, etc. be damned.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      PartsUnknown – wouldn’t the fact that these car companies are corporations means that stockholders can be in any country so profits can wind up anywhere? That means Gm stock might be owned by an Indian fellow and Honda stock might be owned by a Belgian gal.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      joeaverage, that’s a great point and it bolsters my argument that the “profits ultimately end up in Japan” meme is a red herring.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Without weighting the national ownership of the company at all this is worthless. Any Ford, GM, or maybe Chrysler (what with the controlling interest being an Italian firm now) is more American than any Toyota or Honda, regardless of where it is assembled or the parts content.

    When you buy an American nameplate the profits from that go back to an American company and help create more American jobs, whereas profits from Toyotas and Hondas may help the factory workers here, and perhaps even some domestic design and engineering staff depending on the company, but a lot still goes back overseas.

    I’d feel better driving a car that was engineered, designed, and styled in the US but built in Mexico than a car that was designed, engineered and styled in Japan but built in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Some Japanese have been waiting in line for three days for the change to buy an iPhone. It’s not that American companies can’t design and engineer the best products in the world. They just choose not to.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      This is a pretty popular argument, but it never makes sense to me.

      Isn’t profit a pretty small part of the equation? The biggest cost of the car is the parts, assembly, sales, marketing etc. and a lot of that stays local if the car is assembled locally with plenty of locally sourced parts.

      I am sure you are correct that less of the profit stays here or is reinvested locally, even though foreign manufacturers do employ some engineers in the US.

      So what is more important to you, buying a car which employs your fellow working class Americans across the country keeping the majority of the money spent inside the country, or is it better to send your money across NAFTA borders or to other foreign assembly sites in order to line the pockets of US based executives and hope that R&D reinvestment is spent in America?

      Not saying it is fully thought through, it is just my theory and I know the bailouts have changed a lot of that. Feel free to poke some holes!

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      Power6, +1

      Remember that NulloModo is making this argument as a Ford salesman. It doesn’t have to make sense, he just wants people to buy Fords.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I’d rather wave an American flag manufactured Mexico in my front yard than a Japaneese flag manufactured in the U.S.. Translation: When I buy a car I want it to exude Americana (large, uncompromising, and powerful). If I have to show a ‘Made in the USA’ sticker to prove to someone it’s an American car it’s not ‘American’ enough.

  • avatar
    relton

    Several things confuse me about this list.

    1. Why is Canada lumped in with the US when it comes to “American” content, but Mexico is not? They’re both in North America. And, Canada is a different country than the US. So, if you take away the Canadian content from a lot fo those Fords, would they still have top “American” content?

    2. Where is the Mustang? Made in Flat Rock, MI, with an engine from Romeo, MI, a transmission from Livonia, MI, a convertible top from Plymouth, MI, seats made in MI by Lear, and so on.

    3. If you buy an “American” car from a company that loses money, aren’t you contributing to the losses, rather than the profits?

    I’ve lived and worked in MI for my entire working life, over 45 years in the car business. I would really like to se GM, Chrysler and Ford regain the leadership in this business that they used to have. But I’ve finally realized that propping up companies that make inferior products is never going to do that. And, I’ve also realized, that once you get 50 miles from Dtroit, no one cares where their car comes from.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Bob,

      I’m willing to bet that Canada is lumped in with domestic/US because (at the risk of offending our Canadian posters) most Americans think of “America” as the USA, and “North America” is Canada, kinda like North Carolina is, well, the northern part of the Carolinas. Ignoring Quebec (and who wouldn’t like to?), Canada speaks the same language as the US and their culture is different in details, the way Minnesotans are different from Texans, but ultimately still relatable. I’ve heard folks refer to Canada as “North Montana.”

      Mexico, despite its geographic location on the continent of North America, is as South American as it comes in the minds of most folks in the USA. The have similar culture, lifestyle, and langauge as South Americans, a large cultural divide that prevents common understanding. Mexico is perceived as having a vastly different standard of living, unlike Canada.

      Ultimately, the grouping probably just plays to the widespread cultural biases of most USA customers.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      @ relton: “And, I’ve also realized, that once you get 50 miles from Dtroit, no one cares where their car comes from.”

      This is very true. I live on the east coast, and foreign nameplates are prevalent. Most people I know just want a good car, no matter where it’s made. We were looking for a family car and ended up with a used Ford Taurus X, our first domestic brand. Why? Because it offered the best combination of space, utility and safety, not because it was built in Chicago.

      Same deal with the new Accord I just bought, it fulfilled my needs better than the Fusion, Camry or Malibu, et al., simple as that. It’s just a bonus that it was designed, engineered and built in the US.

      I just don’t see the point of buying an inferior product, whether it’s built in the US or overseas. Ultimately, my “personal economy” is the most important economy to me.

  • avatar
    threeer

    @ Bob..sad, but so true. My father-in-law is a diehard GM fan…even though the company he worked at for nearly two decades canned him about a year ago. I catch grief for every non-US nameplate car I drive (right now I own a 2004 Lancer Ralliart and a 2006 Ford Fusion…which by not being a GM still doesn’t sit well with him). But outside of Detroit, nobody cares. We’d all love to see (what used to be) the Big Three regain their positions as the best automakers in the world, but they all still have a long way to go. They can no longer even be just “as good” as the rest of the competition, but markedly better in every metric, and yes…every perception, possible. The Fusion that I own is a good car, but I bought it used because of the huge depreciation that came with it (bought it two years old). I’m not sure I would have plunked down new-car money for it.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Most of us on this web site live in a country without a name. We call ourselves “Americans” but there are 2 other countries in NA where the people can call themselves “Americans”. There are 6 countries in Central American where the people can call themselves “Americans” and there are 12 countries and 2 dependencies in SA where the people can call themselves “Americans”.

    Even the full name we use “United States of America” is inaccurate.

    We need an actual name for our country like the full name of Mexico which is “United States of Mexico” or Brazil which is “United States of Brazil”. Maybe a name like “United States of Buffet” or “United States of Oprah”.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Until Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda move their headquarters to the US, they are not US made cars. They are Japanese made cars, assembled in the US. Just as slaves picking cotton didn’t make them the masters of the plantations, assembling Japanese cars doesn’t make them American.

    These Japanese car companies are not doing us a favor here. They are making a profit. The only reason these companies are in the US is the fact that costs for assembling some of their products here is profitable. These guys will be gone instantly when this basic business fact is reversed. So stop pretending otherwise!

    The highest level of value within the production cycle occurs in Japan, where these cars are made. The headquarters in Japan is where the heart of the organizations make their products. In Japan these cars go from nothing, to being created. In Japan they are engineered into the existing infastructure within the corporation, with most decisions being made in Japan. Where are the plans assembled? Japan. Where are the corporate heads living? Japan. The basic beginning of Japanese cars, is in Japan, where the highest level of value and creation occurs. Assembling is secondary.

    Do you think Mexicans think Ford is Mexican because the Fusion is assembled there? Do you think Canadians believe Lincolns are Canadian because Town Cars were assembled there? Of course not! So why do we believe Camrys are American cars? Because we want to justify buying a Japanese car. If Camrys were not assembled in the US, Camry owners would still buy Camrys. If Accords were not assembled in the US, Accord owners would still buy Accords. How do we know this? Because these cars were originally assembled in Japan, and bought by Americans in such great numbers, assembling them in the US because a profitable option over assembling them in Japan!

    The moment US assemblies become unprofitable, these Japanese manufacturers will dump the US like a hot iron. But they would still sell their Camrys and Accords to us!

    So stop pretending that these cars are “American made”. When you look at the complex delusional attempts to twist the basic definitions of the words, “made”, “manufactured”, “assembled”, and the complicated set of percentages to justify this illogic, you are left with the gut feeling that the entire attempt is fradulent – because it really is!

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      “The highest level of value within the production cycle occurs in Japan, where these cars are made. The headquarters in Japan is where the heart of the organizations make their products. In Japan these cars go from nothing, to being created. In Japan they are engineered into the existing infastructure within the corporation, with most decisions being made in Japan. Where are the plans assembled? Japan. Where are the corporate heads living? Japan. The basic beginning of Japanese cars, is in Japan, where the highest level of value and creation occurs. Assembling is secondary.”

      Just like GM who design and engineer plenty of vehicles in China, Korea and Germany or Ford who are building cars from Swedish and German designs.

      “The moment US assemblies become unprofitable, these Japanese manufacturers will dump the US like a hot iron.”

      Why not? Ford, GM and Chrysler already have done this!

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      +1 VanillaDude.

      Reminds me of the clothing companies who manufacture clothes in Guam just so they can put the “Made in USA” tag on it.

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      “These Japanese car companies are not doing us a favor here. They are making a profit.”

      Isn’t that what any automaker is trying to do? What’s wrong with that? They don’t exist to do us a favor; they exist to (try to) make a profit.

      “The only reason these companies are in the US is the fact that costs for assembling some of their products here is profitable. These guys will be gone instantly when this basic business fact is reversed.”

      Probably true of any automaker as well, which is why you see Ford importing vehicles from Mexico, GM importing from Korea, etc.

      “Do you think Mexicans think Ford is Mexican because the Fusion is assembled there? Do you think Canadians believe Lincolns are Canadian because Town Cars were assembled there? Of course not!”

      I don’t know about Mexicans and Fusions, but I’ll bet that a lot of Canadians who build those cars consider them “Canadian.”

      “So why do we believe Camrys are American cars? Because we want to justify buying a Japanese car. If Camrys were not assembled in the US, Camry owners would still buy Camrys.”

      You just disproved your own point: If Camrys were not assembled in the US, people would still buy them, which means their justification for buying it doesn’t depend on the country in which it was assembled.

      “The moment US assemblies become unprofitable, these Japanese manufacturers will dump the US like a hot iron.”

      Kind of like how GM now sells more vehicles in China (where they are presumably profitable) than in the US?

      Finally, when GM designs, engineers and builds cars in Europe and sells them over here, are those cars “American made” or not? After all, GM is headquartered in the USA…

  • avatar
    srogers

    Amendment X;
    You’ve got it backwards, VanillaDude likes that GM sticks a Chevy label on a Korean Daewoo.

    It’s that Toyota builds pickups in the US that he’s against.

  • avatar

    My parents and I used to get guff from people complaining about our German VW in 1961. I told those who complained that the car was bought from a local dealer who in turn bought it from a US distributor, and that the tires and battery had US brand names. So on its way to the fatherland, quite a bit of our money remained in our own country. Didn’t bother to mention that we wouldn’t be trading so often with US gas stations and tire shops….

    I was curious about the Mustang’s absence from that list too.

    And finally, I apparently get the “Your comment is being moderated” line by default.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Relton, I think there are two reasons that Canadian built cars are considered to be “American:”

    1. Canadian plants owned by the formerly big three were/are UAW shops; domestic content measurement really means “how much of this car was built by the UAW.”

    2. Canadians tend to be pale; Mexicans tend to be brown. For better or worse, draw your own conclusions.

    For the above reasons there seems to be generational, regional, and cultural divides regarding how important “domestic content” is to the buyer.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    It’s a shame that the phrase “fun to drive” doesn’t describe a single vehicle on either list. (Well, maybe the wrangler if one expands the driving to include off-road.)

  • avatar
    d_c_weber

    We need a domestic content label for products sold in this country. The content should be based on the % of dollars that go to USA citizen’s versus the % of dollars that go to non-USA citizens.
    It doesn’t matter that a Ford Fusion is built in Mexico. What matters is that for every dollar that is spent on a Fusion, $0.90 goes to USA citizens. Even though some Mexican’s put togetehr the final product, that doesn’t make it a Mexican vehicle.
    Same with a Honda Civic. Sure a few thousand dollars goes to some laborers in Marysville, OH. But, follow the money. All of the profit, engineering, and most parts go to Japanese citizens. I have good froiends that are Japanese. But, when it comes to patriotic duty, balancing the trade deficit comes before the cheapest price and it comes before friends. Afterall, my grandchildren will be the peons to the Chinese and Japanese and Koreans if we don’t buy USA today.


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