By on January 17, 2011

Ruh Roh! A press release from the Made In USA Foundation [via theautochannel] picks the kind of fight that GM has been assiduously avoiding for years (but especially since the bailout):

General Motors, bailed out by U.S. taxpayers and still owned in part by the federal government, is stripping country of origin labels off of its cars at auto shows around the country, says the Made in the USA Foundation. The Made in the USA Foundation has charged GM with violating the American Automobile Labeling Act (AALA) which requires all new cars that are offered for sale to include country of origin information.

The AALA requires new cars to provide information on the window sticker, including where the car was assembled, the U.S. and other country content, where the engine was made and where the transmission was made.

Joel D. Joseph, Chairman of the Made in the USA Foundation, said, “General Motors wants to hide the fact that, even after the government bailout, it has moved production of vehicles offshore. The Cadillac SRX is now made in Mexico. The Buick Regal is made in Germany.”

GM claims that the AALA only applies to cars for sale at dealers not at auto shows. Joseph stated that he worked with Senator Barbara Mikulski, who wrote the law, and that the intent of the law was to inform consumers about the country of origin of new cars. Joseph said, “Millions of consumers get their first look at cars at auto shows. The law applies to cars that are ‘for sale’ and auto show cars, except concept cars. Identical GM cars are for sale at thousands of dealers across the nation, and display vehicles should include country of origin information. The U.S. government saved GM and still owns one-third of the company. General Motors should comply with the intent of the law.”

GM’s response at torquenews.com

GM spokesman Greg Martin countered that the issue seems like almost a non-issue. At major shows like Detroit, Chicago, New York and L.A., the manufacturers display their own fleet of cars unlike regional shows where the cars displayed are largely from dealer stock and thus have Monroney stickers that would show manufacturing content. Manufacturers are not allowed to sell directly to the public.

“We have the highest manufacturing footprint in the United States,” said Martin, adding that GM has invested $3 billion in factories and brought 10,000 people back to work (with more to come in the first quarter) since coming out of bankruptcy. Production of the Sonic begins later in 2011 at the General Motors Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, which received a $545-million investment in upgrades and retooling, and will help restore approximately 1,000 jobs in the metropolitan Detroit area

Silly scandal, or damning irony? We report, you decide.

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61 Comments on “GM’s “Made In America” Fiasco...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Technically, the Regal is only going to be made in Germany for a while.  Then it’s going to shift to Canada.
     
    Which I’m ok with.  :)

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “The Made in the USA Foundation, created in 1989 by grants from the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co”

    Hmmm…

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    On oneside, if intent was really what he claims, then the law would clearly reflect this.  It could be very well this was his intent, but it may not have been the intent of the committee that put the final language into the bill which became the law.

    On the otherside, GM knows it has been caught here because it is grasping at what the law says, and crossing this with something akin to the fact that they can remove the label from the mattress because they are the first owner… (would be interesting to see if they later sold these cars as new or used…)

  • avatar
    srogers

    Wow! What an overblown issue. So they removed stickers from show cars. Maybe they even used non-OEM tires on some – O, the horror!
    Taxpayer money, blah, blah, blah.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Ah, so they talked to a sleazy senator (redundant terms, I know) and all is OK?
    What a bunch of bull Obama.
    GM, please eat doo doo and die.
    Now!!

  • avatar

    I’m sure they’d gladly throw Monroneys on every show car if they could get some Federal legislation hamstringing state franchise laws, opening up direct sales.

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    Made in USA?   More like assembled in the USA, or Canada, or Mexico.   If you look at what goes into supposed domestic autos you will find that most of the parts come from off-shore.   Wiring harnesses from China, door seals from Germany, electronics from SE Asia or Japan, and the list goes on.   What’s of concern for me is that much of the expensive high tech components in our domestic cars (transplants included) comes from outside the country and that’s where the lions share of the money goes to buy these parts.   Not only is the money leaving but so are the high paying skilled labour jobs that build these components.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      For this, you can thank targeted tax cuts for corporations to off-shore American jobs.  And, yes, it was a Republican Congress that passed these middle class and Union destroying laws.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Last I heard, “targeted” tax cuts was democrat idea. Remember Al Gore? (Uh no, before the massages.) The problem is we tax our exports, other countries do not. So manufacturing offshore becomes more profitable. We have the highest corporate rate of any industrialized nation and you can thank the old Republican congress for that, because they didn’t have enough sense to cut it. The only reason that any manufacturing is done here at all is because of the devaluing of our currency and the avoidance of transportation costs.

  • avatar
    ghentForever

    So what?   Big deal!   Ford Fusion and Fiesta are made in Mexico.  Buick Regal is going to be made in Canada next year.  Why?   You have problem with Canada?     Goddamn Yankees!

  • avatar
    M 1

    As long as the profits come home, I don’t care where the parts are lumped together. Which is the same reason Honda and BMW are still foreign marques — the important part of the money goes overseas.
     
    Granted, “profits” and GM are not two words you see in close proximity lately, but the general point is valid.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      And what’s the “important part of the money?”  Honda and others have major operations here in the U.S.  Not just assembly, but research, design, product planning, sales, etc.  They employ thousands of white and blue collar American workers.  Also, check the domestic parts content on new vehicles; these transplants use a lot of American manufactured parts from American suppliers.
       
      That seems like a pretty important part of the money.  And if a handsome profit goes back to Japan or Germany, so what?  In the last few decades, they’ve reinvested a lot of that profit back here.  In recent years, Detroit’s cut jobs and taken money from taxpayer pockets.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Not to mention that all these “foreign” car builders are publicly traded companies. So the profits go to anyone who thought owning their stock was a good investment.

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    TTAC- Do you ever really take a look at how much you snipe at GM? Seriously. It is absurd.

    • 0 avatar

      Take a moment to read the piece. I pretty clearly allowed the Made In USA presser speak for itself and counterpointed it with the most complete GM response I could find. I’m struggling to see how I could have been more fair… other than preventing TTAC’s B&B from discussing the issue (which, again, we did not raise in the first place). Not allowing a balanced discussion about this to take place is neither “fair” nor in the spirit of this site’s mission.
      If you, on the other hand, can’t engage in a reasonable debate without attacking TTAC for simply allowing the debate to take place… well, that speaks to your biases a lot more than ours, doesn’t it? I am perfectly willing to examine our content for examples of bias, but context-free whining in the comments section isn’t the way to get me to do it. Drop us an email at our contact form and we can discuss the issue substantively.
      My patience for the tactic of crying bias as a way to ignore reasonable discussion of serious issues is wearing thin. TTAC regularly finds issues on which to both criticize and praise every automaker in the business. Again, crying foul when your favorite automaker happens to be the topic doesn’t exactly strengthen your credibility (especially when you won’t touch the substance of the piece).
      Remember, the wider automotive media is more than happy to provide the sunniest possible outlook on any given automotive story. To paraphrase Harry Truman, if you can’t take the heat, stay away from Hiroshima.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      EN,
      I think he does have a bit of a point.  While the article does address both sides, it is interesting how the title of many of the articles seem to be very slanted against GM, like the Volt being made from contaminated garbage for instance.  GM was actually doing something good, but the title is very anti GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Agreed. How were cars from other manufacturers presented at NAIAS? I just did a quick scan through a couple brands (BMW and Dodge) on the NAIAS website’s photo gallery and I’m not seeing any Morroni stickers on any vehicles. Without presenting any evidence that GM was doing anything to conceal the country of origin of any of its vehicles (assuming all displayed vehicles were in fact production ready or that the displayed vehicles were going directly to dealer stock somewhere) this story seriously lacks context.

    • 0 avatar

      Steven02: Headlines are a tricky business… they weren’t covered in my one term of high school journalism. I’ll definitely try to work on them.
      TTAC has a policy of not discussing editorial policies (aka biases) in the comments section, so I’m going to say this once and ask that further discussion of this topic be taken to the contact form:
      “XYZ is biased” is not an argument. It adds nothing to the discussion. If, in fact, XYZ is “biased,” this bias can be revealed by either correcting the facts/arguments presented or by adding new facts/arguments to the discussion. Period.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The only people that care where cars are made is the UAW. This is yet another non-story about GM.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I’m less bothered by the fact that the cars aren’t built in the U.S. as I am that GM tried to hide it.  It’s minor, but it’s also a pretty lame, underhanded move.  The way GM does business and promotes itself always leaves me with the impression they have little respect for their customers, from all the cynical badge engineering to the claims that they’ve “paid back” the taxpayers.
     
    GM may be healthier and more competitive than before, but it’s still has the same crap corporate culture from before the bankruptcy.  I don’t trust them and I don’t like them.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Bingo-

      To those saying ‘big deal’ or ‘all the cool kids are doing it these days,’ please remember the days, way back when, certain N.American auto concerns draped the flag over their shoulders and held out their hats.

      They can build their cars in Bhutan for all I care, but if they’re going to tuck that fact under the floor-mat after getting all John Cougar Melloncamp with it, that’s another story.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Last time I shopped, I bought domestic(because that’s where it’s at, yo,) but had to pass on the Illinois car to get the higher-quality model. The folks in Illinois kept me motoring for 12 years, and I really thank them for it– but it’s impossible to get “high” quality out of the union shops due to the wage thing. In my preferred brand’s case– one is pretty much required to buy “foreign” to get the desirable models.
     
    I would think it most-excellent if US-Based manufacturers could match quality and price with others, while retaining made in USA internet-cred– but they can’t. I’m willing to accept a vehicle built in Canada or Mexico as a workaround. Because, well.. at least they’re earning a living wage.
     
    My Father worked at Ford through university– he drove a Mach1. A college-age friend works at a Honda supplier– she drives a 300k mile 1989 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham. Yet another acquaintance works at MB– he drives a w201. I’d shop a made in USA foreign make.. if I’d ever known anyone living a middle-class life by building them.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I wouldn’t judge the quality of anyone’s income based on their choice of vehicle.  Just because somebody drive’s an old bucket of bolts doesn’t mean they don’t make enough money.
       
      “I’m willing to accept a vehicle built in Canada or Mexico as a workaround.  Because, well.. at least they’re earning a living wage.”  Really, Mexico?  Bull.  The only reason anybody builds anything in Mexico is because the labor is cheaper than it is here.  If they’re “living a middle-class life” life down there, nobody’d be hopping the fence to work up here.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I’m going to take a bit of free-license, and assert that those employed building automobiles in Mexico are not the ones leaping fences to make $3 per hour picking California’s fruit.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      I read last year that GM’s workers in Mexico were making about $25 a day including benefits..
       

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      “I wouldn’t judge the quality of anyone’s income based on their choice of vehicle.  Just because somebody drive’s an old bucket of bolts doesn’t mean they don’t make enough money.”

      Sam Walton for example.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The workers at the local Toyota plant are, without a doubt, living the middle class life.  The pay and benefits are fantastic there.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      Quentin, do you doubt that, indirectly, the UAW contract had something to do with those Toyota conditions?

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I don’t think it is coincidence that Toyota workers earn similar to what UAW members do.  In fact, as the UAW keeps crushing their members’ benefits and pay, it will be interesting to see how the transplants react.  We’ll see a race to the bottom, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      MAQ

      iNeon has it right. The ones going to El Norte are the peasant farmers who got wiped out when NAFTA came in.
      They just can’t compete with Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.
      The workers in the auto plants here in México make a very good living wage and build good cars. I’ve owned them and they match anything made in the US.
      I guess that FromaBuick6 didn’t get the memo that the US isn’t the center of the universe any more.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      @fromabuick6
       
      Salary is a small part of the reason for out-sourcing.  OSHA is the main reason.  In Mexico, these companies do not have the same worker safety requirements and have fewer rules on contamination and clean-up.

  • avatar
    JMII

    If the cars are missing those window labels then how does a consumer shopping at an auto show know how much a vehicle costs? Or is like a used car lot with huge numbers written with a neon colored paint? I’ve gone to plenty of auto shows in the past but without the price or MPG specs I wouldn’t even bother.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The only time and place I can recall seeing MPG and MSRP stickers at a “national” level car show was in the late 90s seeing a Hyundai XG300 and the Hyundai booth of the NAIAS but that could just be a faulty memory. 

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Have you been to an auto show?  There is information about the cars and options available, but they don’t have the same types of stickers that you find on dealer lots.  I am pretty sure that many brands do this.  Sometimes the sticker isn’t even on the car, but on a stand in front of the car.

  • avatar
    Hank

    Meh.  People still buy the Canadian built Town & Country from Italian-run Chrysler because it’s the “only ‘Merican minivan left.”  Sure, GM’s definitely playing an idiot’s game of lawyer ball, but who’s surprised?

  • avatar
    DubTee1480

    Aren’t the big national level car shows held for the benefit of the press and not for the general public?  I may be wrong, I’ve never been to one (the large ones) – maybe the open the doors to the public later.  But if I were a manufacturer, I wouldn’t want big ugly white stickers in the photos of my cars either.

  • avatar
    prj3ctm4yh3m

    If its “not a big deal”, why did they affirmatively remove them (COO stickers not the window sticker)?

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I just returned from the Detroit Auto Show.
     
    Ed, there were numerous foreign and domestic manufacturers without window stickers. I do remember several Ford displays had the “government” stickers on a side stand behind a clear shield. All the other manufacturers had fancy side stands with vehicle vitals and price but not origins.
     
    I think this is silly. Manufacturers are at auto shows to “show people what they got” not sell, “Made in the USA”. The consumer can make that decision when they get to the dealership or through their research.
     
    Plus, who wants a damn sticker obstructing your view when looking at vehicles at autoshows. I don’t want to see the tag hanging out of the Victoria’s Secret model’s rear ends when they are strutting the runway.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this is silly.
      And you make a good case for that. It’s not an issue that I personally feel strongly about (a protectionist I am not), but I am happy that most of the B&B have been able to discuss it in a civil manner. Especially since the conversation has left me with beautiful mental images of Victoria Secret model posteriors!
       

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The guy has a point, but he picked a douchey, ignorant way to make it. Some vehicles at auto shows are pulled from the general sales pool, but others come from the manufacturer test builds that never get a VIN, and some aren’t even USDM at all.

  • avatar
    ixim

    So long as the car I actually buy is labeled as to its country of origin, I have no problem. My first choice in an auto purchase is to “Buy American”, meaning GM, Ford, or, even, Italian-run Chrysler. But, like every one else I know, the final decision will be based on design, quality, and price. For the record, I have no problem with the design or build quality of any of the D3’s current lineups. I know, there’s lots of foreign content in their cars, and many of them are assembled in foreign countries. Many models are [horror!] built by UAW members! So what? They are still more “American” than, say Honda, BMW or Mercedes whose HQ’s and best jobs are NOT here in the USA.

  • avatar

    hate the heresy in hipped up hopes to be hyped up heroes of homespun heritage.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Labeling laws are among the small set of a concise, low cost government mandates that have a positive effect.
     
    Content labeling enhances consumer selection and thus increase efficient markets.
     
    To assume Americans will Pavlov-like respond to ‘Buy American’ appeals is itself a bit of a stereotype.
    The US has a diverse population and many folks have ties or sympathies with other regions.
    Canadian, German and British should be obvious examples of ‘labels’ that hold cache for many products including cars.
    But if the ‘Americaness’ has been a hallmark of a product for decades (i.e. Cadillac) and your ad themes regularly drape the flag, then building it in Mexico runs counter to all the branding you’ve done since Hoover was president.

  • avatar

    A big nothingburger. The guy’s making a real stretch when he’s complaining about cars at auto shows.
    I wish I could have gotten as much publicity for the launch of Cars In Depth.

  • avatar
    asdfghjkl

    GM sells many cars oversees with China being it’s biggest market, so I don’t see why one would question why it builds cars in foreign countries. It’s easy to criticizes and writes things out of context. The truth of the matter is, all auto companies do the same. So why pick only on GM.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    What pulls my chain are WWll license plates on a brand new Camry.


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