By on June 4, 2012

Sourcing Canadian-market Fits from China instead of Japan is about one thing and one thing only: the globalization of the automotive business. Look, we’ve got Camaros made in Ontario, Nissans from Tennessee and Fiats—yes, Fiats—made in Mexico, so a Fit from China shouldn’t be a surprise. In this case, if globalization allows Honda Canada to be more profitable and employ more Canadians, then it’s all upside, isn’t it?

So says my occasional competitor and racing partner Brian Makse in his recent review of a Chinese-built Fit. Brian notes that Fits sold south of the Windsor strip clubs continue to be sourced from Japan. If Honda knows what’s good for them, they will keep it that way.

Brian’s review is short and to the point: he doesn’t see any difference between Japanese and Chinese Fits, and he is surrounded by Chinese-made products such as his iPhone anyway, so what’s the problem? I would suggest that there are, in fact, multiple problems with Honda’s decision to bring Chinese-assembled cars to North America, and that those problems will primarily affect Honda itself.

I can dimly recall reading some fatuous statement by Dr. Z or some similar fellow in a color rag many years ago that “We want people to think of the phrase ‘Made By Mercedes’, not ‘made in Germany’, when they think of our products.” Anyone who has ever had the fantastically unpleasant experience of owning a first-generation M-Class will no doubt experience a bit of PTSD while considering the idea of “made by Mercedes, not made in Germany”. Even in our “globalized” economy, even as we all sing “Kumbaya” and all of the United States occupies itself day and night with wedge issues like gay marriage while cheerfully packing up every remaining middle-class job in the country and shipping it back to China in the same container that brought us our bread-and-circuses idiot boxes, it still matters where a product is assembled. More specifically, it still matters where the suppliers are located. Suppliers are the secret weakness of every automaker. Ever since GM and Volkswagen briefly made “J. Ignacio Lopez” a household word, the suppliers have suffering under the double burdens of expected quality and relentless cost-cutting. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the flimsy brake switch I extricated from Vodka McBigbra’s Hyundai Accent last year, or the CTS-made pedals which were so clearly price-eviscerated that Toyota had no trouble moving a lot of the blame for unintended acceleration their way, or the plastic door handles on the new Enclave that had me “riding the wave”. Suppliers are the soft underbelly of automotive quality.

In fact, pressure on suppliers has grown so fierce that, based on off-the-record conversations I’ve had with supplier personnel within the United States, only the fear of crippling lawsuits keeps further corners from being cut. Everybody saw how quickly Toyota threw CTS under the liability bus. That kind of thing generates enough fear for an engineer to successfully keep a useful bushing or fuse in a subassembly, right? “If we leave this bushing out, the pedal could stick and we could get sued SO HARD IN THE YOU KNOW WHAT, so let’s put the bushing in.” Guess a country where suppliers don’t have to care about stuff like that? Hint: it sort of rhymes with “vagina”. If the accelerator pedal in a Chinese Fit fails, Honda will take the rap in North America, not the faceless supplier.

Therefore, while I have every confidence in Mr. Makse’s ability to evaluate the tactile and dynamic quality of the Chinese Fit compared to a Japanese one, I still wouldn’t pay my own money for one. I’m not the only person who feels this way, and I’m pretty sure this attitude exists north of the border as well. Honda has enough problems, and every TTAC reader is aware of them. They don’t need to add “made in China” to their list of liabilities. Consumers don’t make fine distinctions, and if the word gets out that “Hondas are Chinese”, it will affect the perception of everything from the Fit to the Acura RL.

This decision to bring Fits to Canada from China, along with a similar decision taken last year to expand Mexican capacity at the expense of American production, doesn’t leave much doubt in my mind about Honda’s future direction. Instead of reaching for the proverbial stars with exciting, enthusiast-friendly small cars, they’ve chosen to race Nissan to the low-cost cellar. It’s not good news for Honda fans, and for your humble author, it’s not much of a consolation to say I told you so.

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53 Comments on “Canadian Journalist Meets Chinese Fit, Digital Film At 11...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Anyone who has ever had the fantastically unpleasant experience of owning a first-generation M-Class will no doubt experience a bit of PTSD while considering the idea of “made by Mercedes, not made in Germany”.”

    To be fair, Mercedes made in Germany suck, too, but the first-generation M-Class was something special.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      They re-ran that episode of “Shark Tank” where the guy who wanted to build a truck rack business without manufacturing overseas was rebuffed. FOX news had afield day with it, but I’m glad the show touched on finer points about ‘quality’ and overseas with out delving to far into the “r” word… as admirable as the guy was, the Sharks really did pick into the hint of xenophobia with his objections about manufacturing overseas.

      I can see Jack’s point in this post, but I think it’s a passing time. Sony, Nikon, Seiko, Honda…. in the 80’s we bought these brands because they were the epitome of Japanese manufacturing, but nobody will pay a premium for a Japanese made Sony TV anymore, and Nikon’s Thailand products are just as well regarded as their Sendai plant products.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Re: Nikon’s Thai’ products, if you’d said that 7 or 8 years ago, I would have disagreed with you completely. Some of the earlier generation low end Nikon DSLR’s were prone to random component failure whilst the higher end Japanese made DSLR’s are still going strong. Today though, I agree with you completely. What is made in Thailand is absolutely on par with what is made in Japan. For a long time I was convinced my D80 was Japanese made because it has worked so well for so long. Then one day I turned it over and saw the ‘Made in Thailand’ sticker.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I’d normally be cautiously optimisic that this will be an object lesson for both Honda and other automakers, but I know better. IF it were in any way possible for automakers to look past the quarterly profit statement, then GM would never have needed a bailout and VW would napalm that despicable plant in Puebla.

    It does’t matter that the car might be crap, it will be profitable (if it sells) and that’s all that matters. Yes, my iPhone is made in China, but it doesn’t work right, there’s no real consequence. I just live without for a day or two and go get a new one. My wife and kids ride in my car. If it malfunctions, the potential consequences are much greater.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      You know better? You know nothing. There’s not the slightest actual reason to believe that Chinese-made Fits will be inferior. Ford has been making the Fusion in Mexico during the whole time that that has been one of the most reliable midsize cars- better than almost any US-made Ford model.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        For some of us, we really don’t care “if” the Chinese-built Fit will be as good, or not. I regularly look with great care on where my product is made, and do my absolute best to buy from a company that employs folks here in the USA. Call it patriotism or isolationism or protectionism…I don’t care. I may be one of a dieing breed here in America, but I’ll live with it. I’m frankly tired of the very one-sided “relationship” we maintain with China and realized that to a large extent, the American buying public did it to themselves with the desire for cheaper and cheaper goods, which corporations here were all the happier to provide. The spiral continues unabated. They finance our debt while that debt helps finance their continued march forward (to include a military build-up that will eventually see some sort of boiling point down the road…and how ironic will that be, given that a recent study showed that millions upon millions of counterfiet electronics are finding their way in to our military systems…but that’s as much the fault of numerous contractors as anything else).
        BLUF…it may be that the Chinese-built Fit will be every bit as good as the one from Japan, but I don’t think one will find it’s way to my garage, and would think that it’d be a tough sell here in America.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        Preferring American-made to Chinese-made makes sense. But why should an American prefer Japanese-made to Chinese-made for any other reason than a real quality difference?

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      I don’t get why some people bash VW’s plant in Puebla, Mexico. Some of the most reliable Volkswagens sold in America are built there.

  • avatar
    vwbora25

    Honda has lost its’ way. My first honda was an 82 accord hatchback, 5 speed, that thing was a blast to drive and it replace a 77 monte carlo. I followed that up with an 86 accord with the hide away headlights and a 92 later on all cars were good for 300+km and all were fun to drive. I switched to VW in 98 because they had more character. It’s going to take a lot for Honda to get my business back.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    This is a tad naive. Thing is cars have been made in Thailand for a long time without much consequence.

    Where I am we have same model cars that are made in Thailand and Spain and the Spanish ones are markedly worse.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      A tad naive? “Stunningly ignorant” is more like it.

      And while I hate American jobs being shipped to China, Japanese jobs?? That’s something for the Japanese people to worry about. Meanwhile, most US Hondas are and will continue to be made in the US, so Honda is not a company I have a lot of problems with.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        ‘A tad naive? “Stunningly ignorant” is more like it.’

        Stunningly ignorant of what, exactly? I’m genuinely curious to hear what you know that I haven’t learned working for a couple of major auto manufacturers and working with firms which design components which are then manufactured in China.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        I see nothing in your post to indicate that you have any actual information about Honda’s Chinese suppliers and factory and their QA processes. (No, equally unspecified, admittedly Honda-unrelated information / experience about China doesn’t qualify.) If I’m wrong, show your work.

        I mean, at least the article to which you linked was based on examination of an actual car.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        It’s not TTAC policy to publish the life story of every author with every story — largely because nobody really cares how I managed to capture the #13 number plate for 14 Novice BMX riders in 1986 — but I happen to have relevant experience here, even as it relates to Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        More bluster and fudge? I’ll take that as an admission that I’m correct. As I said, the linked article, while not worth much, at least has the merit of being based on actually examining a Chinese-made Fit.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Supersleuth, you’re arguing semantics. No need for your ‘stunning’ vocabulary.

        Preferring Mexican over Chinese assembled cars doesn’t make sense to me. Both get launched to the same Quality and Production operating systems. Both will share a global supply base. The only difference is there is one more degree of separation from you. A Japanese vehicle made in China is about as close to a Ford made in Mexico as you can get. Both Honda and Ford engineers deal with roughly the same cultural boundary and both have the same travel from home.

        I am willing to bet your job can be done as well and cheaply in a NAFTA or off shore location. Case in point: I worked with product development engineers for seats on a major vehicle platform. They were all from Mexico. They were fantastic engineers. They came for the entire build and stayed on site during the entire launch. Their US counterparts sat at their cubicles back home and some just plain sucked at their jobs.

        An easy solution for this whole mess Jack speaks of is loosening immigration laws. Those engineers were envious of my pay. And they deserved every cent of it.

        …or maybe we all deserve to be paid less?

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        tresmonos, don’t worry, that’s the bailout.

      • 0 avatar
        vbofw

        Supersleuth, your demand for a “linked” article made me giggle. As if an article elsewhere on the Internets makes everything completely factual.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        wsn, even though you may be joking, a bailout that severely devalues our currency is exactly what we need if we’re not going to be advocates to more open immigration policy. Our country is just too full of people grasping onto every last bit of the past.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I think Jack’s point is about supplier diligence. I’m not convinced that Chinese suppliers are inherently less diligent than their Japanese, Thai or American counterparts—that really depends on the according diligence of the OEM.

      This is putting the socioeconomic issues aside: Apple has done comparatively well with Chinese suppliers, and they’re not the lone exception as much as they’re the most notable example. Honda doesn’t have to treat Chinese suppliers or allow theirs and their suppliers’ workforce and environment to be exploited. They could, and if they want to make money they might have to, eventually, but it’s not a binary good/bad situation.

      There are good reasons to not do business with China, or leverage the Chinese supply chain mastery: relative ethics, environmentalism and/or the hollowing out of the western middle class. Quality isn’t one of them, as a negligent OEM can make a crappy product anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        It’s a very different story with the IPhone. Most of the componentry in the IPhone comes from well established japanese, korean, american and european semiconductor companies like Toshiba, Samsung, Infineon, Broadcom, Micron, etc. These semiconductor giants put their names on their chips- they have a certain amount of reputation at stake.

        http://www.adbi.org/files/2010.12.14.wp257.iphone.widens.us.trade.deficit.prc.pdf

      • 0 avatar

        I believe Jack made it clear in his post his main concern was not with what the suppliers were capable of building but rather what liability they might incur. Unlike most countries china plays by different rules for liability and trademarks etc. This makes legal arguments from other countries null and void in China for the most part ( a local company that makes automotive and aircraft parts recently saw counterfeits made in China they only build there parts in the US so they hired lawyers and started to fight in three years of fighting there answer from the Chinese was yes it is a copy of your product with your logo stamped on it by another company we suggest you open a plant in China and we will discuss the matter further. As jack says no Chinese company will own up to the liability (almost all products from China are sold through another US based company that holds liability insurance protecting the manf themselves even it was possible to sue them.) So I believe Jack argument stands if something goes wrong with a Chinese Fit it will bit Honda in the ass not China.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        actually there is a huge difference between the iphone and a vehicle. A vehicle has a huge number of mechanical parts that must work nearly flawlessly or you can have some major safety issues. Also short of testing every single item you can’t be sure that some part hasn’t been substituted for a cheaper part. With an electronic board, that’s easy to test every single one and also you don’t have to worry about safety as a factor if it fails on an iphone. So Apple has an inherent advantage here.

        look I am living here in China, and factory managers across the country are always looking to save money. If something looks the same and will only last 1/10th the time they will make the change, sometimes only for 1/2 a batch so that the batch can pass spot checks more often than not.

        Not only that this is the only country I know that people in order to save money will KNOWINGLY put a poison into BABY FOOD just to save costs.

        If you think that they won’t work HARD to find ways to put inferior quality materials to save costs then you have no true understanding of modern China.

        Can quality items be made here? Yes, but it’s more likely to have a supplier cheat than not. You have to maintain an extreme diligence to ensure you are getting what you pay for. I’m not sure than any auto manufacturer is willing to do that. So realistically I agree with Jack here. These companies will substitute in lesser quality parts over time and there will be no legal recourse in USA/Canada to actually punish the culprits.

        The problem is so bad there is a constant dialogue here about how Chinese need western religions etc to try and instill some sense of ethics into this society. In many ways it’s quite sad. There are good people here, but there a huge number of bad apples. The system doesn’t promote good behaviour and makes it very easy to cheat at every level.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    So true! Unfortunately, this near-term earnings focus has been evident in a vast array of cheaped-out and dumbed-down consumer products for quite some time now, not just automobiles.

    I’m sick and tired of things (or parts of things) breaking well before their time and rendering the item, or at least some of its best features useless.

    Would much rather pay a bit more and have something last. But I guess that would be bad for business. How does this end?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      For the record, back when we made “things that lasted”, cars usually didn’t last nearly as long as they do now.

      I’m not completely sure of things not lasting as long as they used to. I get the impression some things do (where disposable components are spec’ed, as in some appliances, or performance renders things obsolete quickly, as in many electronics) but that others (and cars are such a beast) last much longer because they’re not suffering for mechanical imprecision.

      • 0 avatar
        thesal

        Although the mechanicals of the car are better than they previously were and last much longer, the same cannot be said for a lot of the other parts.

        I’ve worked with a teir 1 automotive supplier and seen how the OEMs squeeze the supplier for every penny. The result is specific engineering teams scouring over each part after intial production to look for ways to save literally cents (they add up because of production numbers). The inhouse standards compliance and testing doesnt help either, where things are sorta ‘slipped by if one of the 6-8 samples passes the test’.

        “hmmm..can we change this metal washer out for a plastic one? can this screw become a plastic pin instead?” …and slowly a robust part with some semblance of repairability becomes a plasticized piece of junk. If it fails, replace the whole damn thing!

        The quest for bottom dollar is the reason we see power windows fail regularly, headlights fogging/condensation on a brand new car, CD players eating CDs etc. Sure the car runs fine, but it sucks to own it when none of the conveniences work after a few years.

        This is what was different “back in the day”. Perhaps because cost optimizations wasn’t such a science yet and items were a bit “overdesigned”, rather than at the ragged edge of their performance specification.

      • 0 avatar
        Charliej

        psarjinian, you are so right. Cars today are so much better that you can’t believe it unless you were there. My dad was a salesman. He traded cars every year because cars were worn out after fifty thousand miles. Today, any econobox should do two hundred thousand miles with minimal maintenance. When was the last time anyone had a blow out on a tire? When I started driving, blowouts were common. Tires lasted ten thousand miles if you were lucky

        Look at electronics, I worked forty five years as an electronics tech. When I started, every television and stereo had to have service at least twice a year. When I retired last year, over half of all televisions never required a repair in their service life. I have stereo equipment that is twenty years old, it works just fine. Newer equipment will likely last longer. People who think things were better in the past did not live then.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        ever have one of the Ma Bell phones? Talk about something that was made to last. I still have mine, works better than newer phones by far.

        Vehicles are lasting longer, except for the dodge slant six. Talk about an engine you could ignore and it would still run. No one makes an engine like that anymore, on the other hand, the car fell apart around you.

        Furniture comes to mind as one category where things were made to last. Ikea is just disposable.

        I can think of many things that were made to last longer, and are now disposable and made much more cheaply.

        Lot’s of little things, hair dryers, washing machines, I know people who have been using the same one for 40 years, I seriously doubt very many new ones will last that long.

        Vehicles are the opposite, new ones definitely last longer.

      • 0 avatar
        VA Terrapin

        daveinchina said:

        Lot’s of little things, hair dryers, washing machines, I know people who have been using the same one for 40 years, I seriously doubt very many new ones will last that long.

        Vehicles are the opposite, new ones definitely last longer.

        But wait! Didn’t you imply that Chinese are a bunch of unethical bastards who make nothing but junk?

        If new cars rely on more Chinese made parts and/or parts from Chinese owned companies, how is it that new cars “definitely last longer” than cars with fewer parts from China?

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        I also said they can make quality products. IF you watch them closely.

        Many of the suppliers in the USA are USA controlled companies so that the parts etc are held to USA standards. When you start going to wholly owned Chinese companies which from what I can gather is what Jack is really talking about. That changes the game and you can expect to be faced with every level of possible scrimping and cheating possible.

        China is a very complex place and is filled with apparent contradictions but after you are here for a while you start to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

        I’m not sure short of writing some 900 page book and even then I’m not sure I could adequately describe this place in a way to truly understand it.

        I will also say that many of the Americans/Germans/French/etc etc don’t bother to scratch the surface so they don’t see how bad this society is.

        What I will say is that it’s not Chinese as a people per se that is the problem. The system in mainland China is the problem and it is such that it encourages very unethical behaviour because the rewards are so great it’s hard for people to pass them up. There are plenty of ethical people within mainland China, but the system doesn’t reward them for being that way. In fact many of them are punished (Chen Guangcheng for example)

    • 0 avatar
      jbltg

      Honestly, plastic parts used where metal is clearly indicated to prevent premature failure and an inconvenient repair at the very least? This, to save a few pennies?

      Any idiot can shave costs; doing it right takes some intelligence and getting rid of most of the MBA’s sounds like a good place to start.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    According to BS, GM was supposed to be the first company to bring Chinese assembled cars to North America… Once again, Honda beats them to another objective…

    I wish I could agree that these cars are somehow going to be bad due to where they’re assembled, but I’d have to see how they actually perform before we condemn them. To me, the fact that Canada is getting them tells me more about Canadian price resistance than Chinese assembly.

    We (in NA) seem to have a double standard concerning Asian assembly of our consumer products. We like the cheap, CHEAP! electronics and other things we get from Asia. Look how many good quality things you can buy that have brand names with excellent reputations, but are subcontracted assembled in China (or Vietnam or Thailand, etc.) But then we’re horrified (after the whole melamine and other issues) to think that somehow something could go wrong.

    Sh*t happens everywhere. The brand name and location of assembly is no guarantee for a degree of perfection any longer, as much as I’d like to believe it does.

    Honda is bringing Chinese assembled cars to NA.

    Let the chips fall where they may…

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Jack,
    I teeter between your sentiments and the acceptance of globalization on a daily basis. Now I am assigned to a Mexican based product.

    A consumer of a Fit will not care where their car is made. Consumers of mid sized sedans do not care. Trucks are a totally different animal. You’re digging into the ‘working man,’ when you start messing with a Truck.

    I fully believe that the only reason you still see so many US based assembly plants are due to the ties of upper management (of each site) with the executives that make sourcing calls. You’re going to continue to see the ‘phasing’ out of North American operations. The speed will be slower, as there has been a lot of recent ‘right sizing,’ but you will still see it. There are cases of pure nostalgia that keep plants in the US (i.e. Bill Ford’s decision to revamp the Rouge site).

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    It’s hard to comment on something like this without having more direct experience, but I get the sense that China is going through the equivalent of a ‘wild west’ of capitalistic production right now: a fervent economy with lots of production and little regulation. This kind of scenario might be good for those making large, fast profits, but it’s not so good for everyone else.

    While Honda may be creating a huge perception problem for themselves, the bigger problem may be the tendency for most companies to turn towards questionable suppliers for cheaper parts (and larger margins).

    Most of this is armchair quarterbacking of course, but it makes for interesting speculation nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar
      daveainchina

      Nope you are absolutely correct. China is the Wild west and it’s getting to the end of the boom period. How long it will continue is debatable.

      Conditions and ethics are horrible here. The bad conditions are nearly unfathomable, even to someone who has traveled extensively in Brazil and Mexico.

      If you visit here, you won’t see any of this and you’ll most likely have a wonderful experience.

      I remember one engineer who I met here at one of the Laowai (forgeign) bars. I was saying how nice everything seems and he said, it’s all “smoke and mirrors”. He then went on to explain many many horror stories he had experienced in manufacturing.

      Over time I’ve come to understand what he meant. But it’s taken a while.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Good grief, where were those dresses made?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    “. . . only the fear of crippling lawsuits keeps further corners from being cut”

    So that means lawyers DO serve a useful purpose.

  • avatar
    th009

    Detroit is actually NORTH of Windsor …

  • avatar
    dwight

    Honda would have a customer with me if I actually fit in the Fit. Short on legroom and the seats are horribly uncomfortable. Doesn’t matter where it is built, just make it comfortable.

    But on another note, they did just kill the quality perception of a high-quality built car. They should just slap a Honda logo on a Kia Rio and call it their own.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    There is always a difference.
    It’s just the way it is.
    Made-in-Brazil RD350 LC in the early 90’s where missing about 7-10HP compared to RZ 350 LC (JP). Specs were the same, but the tooling used in Manaus was worn-out. Between 9000-11000rpm the Brazilian engines were half vibrating and half producing HP. The JP engines were smooth past 12K. But (other than those that raced) who knew or cared?

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    If you buy a new or late model used car, part of your car is either made in China or made by a Chinese company outside of China. Global car parts companies from Japan, Europe and North America have numerous factories in China. In addition, Chinese companies have acquired North American and European car parts companies.

    If you want to avoid the “Made in China” label on your car, you’re going to have to buy an older used car.

    • 0 avatar
      daveainchina

      Yup you are right. Chinese are good at buying a company and then just leaving it alone. They know that they don’t know what they are doing internationally, they are buying these companies to acquire expertise and skills they don’t have.

      I suspect there are an awful lot of Chinese managers and workers in these companies just following their counterparts around learning the western system of doing things. But as long as these companies have offices and do business within the borders of the USA/Germany/France/Spain/Canada I’m not all that concerned. At that point they are subject to liability lawsuits. It’s if they close up and only work within the borders of China that I worry. That scares me because then there is no liability recourse against those companies.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Never understood matching booth babes dresses to the cars. Do you want them to blend in or stand out? Are they supposed to attract the eye over there or not?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    one of the popular cars we have here is over 50% made in china parts

    its a GM

    the way of the world is that manufacturing is leaving the west… chinese cars have already hit many parts of the world with relatively little issue… in fact LESS issues than the Korean invasion 20 yrs ago

    i don’t like chinese cars, they have nothing the enthusiast wants… yet

    they make Mercedes in China with little difference to Germany… i doubt the avg. Honda Fit buyer cares… if it is

  • avatar
    epc

    I work as an engineer in the non-automotive division of a tier 1 German automotive supplier. A big one. Many of my engineering colleagues came from the automotive side of the house. From my understanding, Jack Baruth is absolutely right. VW can say its Shanghai assembly plant is every bit as good as Wolfsburg, because “we use the same processes and QA systems,” blah blah blah. That might be true, but what about the suppliers who made the power window lifters, fuel pumps, dashboards, headlights, etc? They are likely located near the final assembly plant, aka China, and likely they are made by the Chinese subsidiaries of the global tier 1 suppliers. So, the official lines from the tier 1 suppliers are also: “our xxx plant is every bit as good as the ones in the fatherland, because we use the same processes and standards blah blah blah.” The reality is like Baruth said. You can carry on the spiel about “the same processes and standards” for as far as you want. But at some point you’d better stop and take a hard look. There is a difference.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    I think I recall you living in Ohio, so you probably got your info from honda marysville people. Those people might be a bit biased with regard to the threat of internal competition from China. honda is incredibly conservative, so I can’t see them pulling a VW with new production out of China (VW’s new plant, program and suppliers all at the same time).

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Customers probably won’t notice the difference and will buy anyway. This also may be to test the waters and see how the product behaves, looking forward to an US launch. Made in China stickers will be conveniently hidden and possibly the way to tell will be the VIN. I don’t know what the WMI is for Honda in China, and is not very likely I’ll look for it either.

    I honestly don’t see the drama here. Lots of parts in current cars come from China, independently if they’re made in Germany, US, Brazil, Mexico or Shitholestan. That situation is going to get worse and I don’t think it is going to improve in the near term.

    The best we can do is try to buy locally made products as much as possible… while they’re still available.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    There might be a bright spot out there for US, European and Canadian plants and suppliers, and yes I know I am on record as pointing out generous Canadian labor benefits and heavy govt regulations. But this ray of hope comes with a dark side, namely if Mexico cannot control their violent crime issues some business will eventually decide that a small savings in production costs is not worth the lives of their employees. China’s 800 pound gorilla in the room is the potenital for civil unrest and its disruption on business. Just my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Crime is worse in Detroit than in Mexico.. actually that was a WAG, but I stand by it.

      • 0 avatar
        AoLetsGo

        Yes Detroit is a tough town and I am not sure on your street creds but I have lived, gone to school and worked in the fair city of Detroit. I have also spent more time than I would like in some tough Mexican towns. I am not going to debate stats and go tit for tat, but I did hear a interesting story from a US engineer who travels to a lot of plants down there. He told me on a recent trip there was a big wild west gun fight near his hotel with 4 or 5 dead, but the government report said there were no casualties. It seems they have changed the way the crime stats are collected and if the police say the dead were drug related they do not count them.

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