By on June 27, 2019

While they’re typically a little older than the first time car buyers that usually approach me for advice, there is a subset of individuals that tell me they want to ensure their vehicle is American Made™ and supports the hard working men from country they love. Unfortunately, this usually occurs at the tail of our conversation. We’ve got a price in mind, narrowed down the segment, and are now circling a handful of models they might actually be happy owning. Then they hit me with the regional curveball.

It’s not easy deciding what qualifies as truly American. Sure, I could just rattle off a list of vehicles built inside the United States — and am sometimes forced to — but that doesn’t take into account the multitude of components comprising each model. Such a task would be a monumental undertaking and these discussions usually take place at a drinking establishment, where I’m inclined to get drunk distracted.

Fortunately, Cars.com does an annual rundown of the “most-American” vehicles currently in production with its American-Made Index (AMI) — leaving few stones unturned in its year-long quest for answers.  (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2018

Last week, we looked at how the world’s largest automotive markets are coping. If you’re interested in an abridged version, they could all be doing better. We also noted that China was getting around to summarizing its summer sales data. Well, that ship has since come in, and it was full of corpses. The country has endured three straight months of falling car sales after years of consistent growth.

As the world’s largest automotive market, China impacts just about every other industrialized nation on the planet. Unfortunately, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported that influence helped the market share of U.S. brands fall to 10.7 percent in the first eight months of 2018 versus 12.2 percent just one year earlier. The association’s assistant secretary general, Xu Haidong, said this decline could be attributed to American firms inability to refresh their lineups in a timely manner and definitely had nothing to do with the trade war, anti-American sentiments, or the boycotting of U.S. brands by Chinese consumers.  (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2018

Mercedes-Benz sport-utility vehicles assembled in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, are being checked for potential problems by Chinese customs authorities in Shanghai, according to the nation’s media. The situation was later confirmed by Daimler AG on Thursday.

Officially, custom agents discovered the imported GLE and GLS models possess “insufficient” rear brakes and pose a safety risk. However, this isn’t China’s first time holding up product from the Tuscaloosa factory. Daimler confirmed that its American-made SUVs, along with vehicles from Ford, were held up for several weeks in late April.  (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2018

The new Chevrolet Blazer is the hot-ticket auto creating the most buzz right now, but it’s also generating mild controversy. Many who remember the original were more than a little disappointed seeing the name affixed to a unibody crossover with front-drive origins. While mainstream shoppers aren’t likely to mind, former Blazer owners aren’t thrilled with General Motors’ decision.

It’s probably more financially viable for the automaker to do it this way. GM can definitely serve most customers for less money. But you get the sense that they’ve watered down the automotive broth to stretch the C1XX platform as far as it will go. At least it means more jobs for Americans, though, right? Well, not exactly.  (Read More…)

By on June 24, 2018

While you still hear people throw around the slogan “American Made” quite a bit when it comes to automobiles, the phrase has grown increasingly meaningless. Even if something is built within the states, parts for it will stream in from across the globe. Other times something may not even be built within the country. For example, the iconically American Dodge Challenger is assembled in  Brampton, Ontario and has its 5.7-liter Hemi engines shipped in from Mexico. That’s not a slight to the vehicle, but you just know people have slapped a “Buy American” bumper sticker onto more than a couple of them.

However there are models that still have the majority of their bolts tightened within the United States and that means something to some shoppers. If you’re one of those, here are most American cars you can buy in 2018.  (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock

While there are some who still proudly use the old slogan “Buy American,” the concept is only loosely applicable to automobiles. While you can certainly support American brands, every automobile on the road is an amalgamation of parts from all over the world — and has been for quite some time.

This year, the automotive research website Cars.com, which began ranking the country’s “most-American” vehicles in 2006, was forced to change its criteria after only three models qualified under the old system of measurement.

For 2017, Cars.com has added country of engine origin, country of transmission origin, and U.S. factory employment relative to a company’s sales to its previous criteria of American parts content and final assembly location. It was also forced to lower the overall percentage of domestic parts a car needs to qualify by a full fifteen percent — from 75 to 60 percent.  (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2016

Fidanza Ford Mustang

They say impersonation is the greatest form of flattery, but that flattery has some serious financial consequences in the world of aftermarket parts.

Ohio-based Fidanza Performance, a supplier of aftermarket clutches, flywheels, and other parts, is the latest victim of Chinese knockoff artists selling “Fidanza-like” products on eBay and through unauthorized retailers.

Needless to say, Fidanza president Jeff Jenkins isn’t thrilled by the mimicry.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

2015 Toyota Camry XLE

In its 2016 American-Made Index, Cars.com returned a familiar nameplate to the top spot, but it isn’t built by a domestic automaker.

According to the annual ranking, Toyota Camry retains the American-made crown this year with 75-percent domestic content. Other Japanese models, each wrapped up in red, white and blue, fill up the top five.

The findings fly in the face of the Kogod Made in America Auto Index published last week, which had domestic automakers on top. (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2015

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-012

It’s easy to see why some automakers resist putting premium features in mass market models. All you need to do is look at that luxury showroom to the right. In the quest to differentiate, say, the Ford Fusion from its Lincoln counterpart, or the Toyota Avalon from the Lexus ES, and so forth, manufacturers limit the options and luxuries available on the more pedestrian models.

On the surface, the Optima SXL’s mission could be confused with that of competitors from other non-luxury marques — Accord Touring and Fusion Titanium to name two — but Kia takes its top-trim game a couple steps further. You see, Kia is in a different position as the Optima has no luxury branded sistership and Kia has nothing to lose by creating an Optima trim that could arguably compete with the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

However, the Optima SXL’s existence does give rise to a very important question: Can a gussied-up family sedan be a value alternative to a near-luxury option, such as the TLX or MKZ? Or is this a case of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”

Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

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