Kicks Off Annual "American Made" Debate: Ford Falling?

cars com kicks off annual american made debate ford falling

Every June 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’s criteria for the American Made Index? According to a presser’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 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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  • John Horner John Horner on Jun 28, 2011

    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.

    • Wmba Wmba on Jun 28, 2011

      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.

  • 86er 86er on Jun 28, 2011
    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.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.