By on June 27, 2011

Every June cars.com trolls the protectionist elements of the car guy world by trotting out its “American Made Index,” which has been topped by the Toyota Camry for the third year running. So what’s cars.com’s criteria for the American Made Index? According to a presser

Cars.com’s annual American-Made Index ranks the most-American vehicles based on percentage of their parts that are made domestically, where they are assembled and how many are sold to U.S. buyers.

That last bit goes a long way towards explaining the Camry/Accord dominance: this is not just a measure of assembly and “domestic parts content” (which NHTSA strangely counts as parts made in the US or Canada), but popularity with Americans as well. If, on the other hand, you just look at the raw 2011 “domestic” parts content percentages… well, it tells a slightly different story.

This is the list of all the vehicles that NHTSA confirms are made with 75% or more “domestic” parts content [full list in PDF here]. Notice anything interesting? I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about how cars.com cooks these numbers to get to their AMI, but here’s a quick comparison that’s worth noting: last year, Ford had nine vehicles with 90% domestic parts content or more. This year, only the dying Sport Trac maintains any presence at all above the 89% threshold. As goes Ford, so goes the world of 90%+ “domestic” vehicles…

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32 Comments on “Cars.com Kicks Off Annual “American Made” Debate: Ford Falling?...”


  • avatar
    rentonben

    I’ve been GM’s bitch for the last twenty years – Oldsmobile to Saturn – and after the feds stepped in to protect the UAW and their parasitic behavior of their corporate host, I don’t give a hoot where my next car is made as long as UAW members aren’t involved.

    I will not support changing the natural bankruptcy laws to protect one group of people at my expense and will vote with my wallet.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      natural bankruptcy laws – I didn`t know God gave Mose’s on tablets of stone what the bankruptcy laws should be. Each country has their own set – of course will similarities but there is no absolute right way to order creditors. This comment is not meant to incite the whole bailout crowd (pro and anti), but merely to question the term “natural bankruptcy”.

    • 0 avatar

      Given the conditions already present in the cars.com ranking system, I wonder if a certain percentage shouldn’t also be deducted for UAW assembly. That organization is about as un-American as it gets — unless you think this country was built by the Mafia…

      A 10% loss in “domestic” content would about cover it.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “I’ve been GM’s bitch for the last twenty years…”

      Your two decade patronage of General Motors provided revenue to GM that was used to pay wages to assembly workers that were used to fill the coffers of the UAW treasury. You bought the products that fueled the UAW’s political donation influence machine. Your unhappiness is no one’s fault but your own.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      Don’t call your fellow Americans “parasites” for trying to save their own skins from GM’s bad management and product-design decisions. The UAW is not responsible for the Cavalier, the Citation, and a million other GM cost-cutting specials that led to their eventual bankruptcy. If you want to call somebody a parasite, blame foreign manufacturers who set up shop in nonunion states and pay below-market wages, all while getting massive tax abatements.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The transplant operations are no more of a parasite than the UAW workers.

        The transplant operations are not paying “below-market” wages at their U.S. plants. They are paying wages suited to that type of position, based on the skills and level of education needed to complete the job.

        From what I’ve read, the wages at transplant factories are HIGHER than the wages at the GM, Ford and Chrysler plants. The cost disadvantage comes from health care benefits and outdated work rules (ironically enough, invented by management and defended by the union!).

        And let’s drop the fiction that only the transplant operations have been benefited from local and state infrastructure upgrades and tax breaks.

        GM, Ford and Chrysler have also received this type of government largesse when they update a current plant or build a new one (they just haven’t built that many new ones lately). Have we forgetten the bidding circus that surrounded GM’s announcement of what became Saturn?

        States were vying to the home for the new plant, and attempted to lure GM there with a package of incentives, tax abatements and infrastructure upgrades.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        +1 for organized labor being a parasite well on its way to killing its host, which is now the entire economy. Sharing real estate doesn’t give me anything in common with people willing to sacrifice my values, property, and freedom for their sense of entitlement.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The very phrase ‘below market wages’ shows a complete lack of understanding of markets. Do people want those jobs and work for those wages? Sounds like a functioning labor market.

      • 0 avatar
        Tommy Boy

        You neglect to mention the UAW above-market compensation and featherbedding via work rules impelled management to offset the higher costs by cutting product quality (cheaper components, cheaper interiors, etc.).

        This isn’t to say that management didn’t screw up only because of the UAW.

        But the “Big Three” bed was made by both the UAW and management.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The list would be completely different if Mexico was in “America” although I’m not sure when it became its own continent.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Mexican parts won’t be considered “domestic” until the UAW has a major presence there, as it does in Canada. (Hopefully that will be never.) You’ve got to stop and wonder if a special interest group has -maybe- just a little too much sway over politicians when the UAW can get federal lawmakers to define goods produced in a foreign country as “domestic”.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Silvy_nonsense The UAW has a major presence in Canada.

        Where ?

      • 0 avatar
        marauder_pilot

        The UAW has zero presence in Canada. However, we DO have the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers), which started out as the Canadian branch of the UAW and is essentially the same organization-there aren’t any legal ties any more, but for all intents and purposes they can be counted together.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        The CAW was formed after a “tiff” that happened during the 84 GM strike.

        There is NO affiliation whatsoever between the UAW and CAW.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    The full-size pick-up truck, the most ‘American’ of vehicles, and the only only one on this list is the Toyota Tundra. There’s an irony in there, somewhere…

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    “Percentage of parts made globally”? Does that mean that a part is a part, no weight given to value? So 2 light bulbs made in the US have the same value as an engine block and a cylinder head cast & machined overseas? That can’t be what they mean. If it is, then it’s the most meaningless number in history.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      The NHTSA list is calculated by value. More info is here: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Part+583+American+Automobile+Labeling+Act+%28AALA%29+Reports

  • avatar
    relton

    I was under the impression that the UAW doesn’t have any presence in Canada. In the 70s, the CAW seceded from the UAW, and has been the union in Canada ever since. They would be very insulted to be labeled UAW.

    Canada and US production was lumped together whent he classifying system started because of the Canada-US auto pact from the 60s. This allowed free trade of cars between the 2 countries. It has since been superceded by NAFTA.

    If things were logical, either Canadian content would be split off from the US, or Mexico would be added.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @relton..As a former UAW and then CAW member, I’m not the least bit insulted.

      I’ve been reading TTAC for long enough to know, that there is a whole lot of folks here that havn’t a clue what thier talking about.

      For the most part, the union bashing you read here, stems from deep rooted envy.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Concerning the domestic auto industry, somewhere between circa 1972 and now, something bad must’ve happened…

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I am amazed that 40% of the parts of a F150 and 39% of a Silverado are manufactured outside of the U.S./Canada. I’m guessing Mexico is probably the biggest source.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I thought I remembered a post from Bertel not long ago where he said that a lot of parts are imported from China with very minimal work done on them to be counted as domestic parts content. My question is, what does it take to be considered a domestic part? My guess is that many corporations have found ways of creative accounting on this just like they have for EPA numbers.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    GM build all it 6cyl engines in Australia at fishermans bend

  • avatar
    obruni

    for the people looking to buy a car untouched by union labor: good luck.

    you will be depriving yourself of most of the products from the German car makers; as well as anything made in Mexico, Japan, and South Korea. You can forget about the Mini as well.

    have fun in your boring CamCord!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I guess “boring” is now synonomous with “well-engineered and well built.” Unfortunately, too many German and American cars aren’t “boring.”

      • 0 avatar
        obruni

        I guess “well-engineered” is now synonomous with worst in class fuel economy

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Not in the real world. Most of us realize that there is a considerable difference between EPA ratings and real-world numbers. That comes from personal experience – much like the appreciation for the superior engineering, build quality and reliability of these cars.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ancient treaties with Canada have the US counting Canadian work as “domestic”, which is silly if you care about such things. If the NHTSA is going to publish this kind of data (and what does this have to do with Traffic Safety???), then they should publish it for NAFTA zone production and not include Canada whilst excluding Mexico. Pre-NAFTA, there was a certain kind of logic to the US-Canada grouping thanks to old treaties. But now, it makes no sense.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      John, the only thing I’ll say is that Canada chucked in over $10 billion to keep GM and Chrysler afloat a couple of years ago, TWICE the per capita loans from the US government.

      The Mexican contribution was, so far as I know, zip, nada, nil, zero. So, at least as far as the bailout was/is concerned perhaps you Americans can at least acknowledge that GM and Chrysler Canadian operations are “domestic”. We think of them as domestic in Canada, and the average joe here thinks a Civic or RX350 almost entirely manufactured in Ontario as an “import”.

      Mexico does nothing but complain about border policies and offers only cheap labor for the car industry, and then exports the majority of their output to the US and Canada with no tariffs charged due to NAFTA.

      Ultimately though, either a free trade zone is a free trade zone or it’s not. If it really is, then I agree, Mexican sourcing should be part of “domestic” content in the US and Canada and vice versa. However, I wonder if any US or Canadian production actually is exported to Mexico. It’s very much a one way street, and has contributed mightily to the demise of US and Canadian industrial production, even before the monolith of Chinese production.

  • avatar
    86er

    That last bit goes a long way towards explaining the Camry/Accord dominance: this is not just a measure of assembly and “domestic parts content” (which NHTSA strangely counts as parts made in the US or Canada)

    Your auto industry is our auto industry.


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