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How Much of Your Car is US Made?

How Much of Your Car is US Made?

With the 2016 car-model coming soon, some people are seriously considering buying a new car. However, over and over, I see people confused as to what automobile they should buy if they believe in “Buy American” movement. I mean the old model of the 1970s is long gone. “American” companies are no longer American (they are multi-national). Chrysler is owned by an Italian company, Fiat. And Ford and GM manufacture many automobiles in countries like Mexico, Brazil and China, while companies like Toyota, Honda, Kia and Nissan make many models in the USA. So which model and what company? The following article by Brian Moody for The Huffington Post may help explain which choice is the best. And at the bottom of the article are a couple of links – Kogod School on Business Index which rates the amount of US made material in all models of recent automobiles, and there is which tells you which city and state your model of car was made.

Source: Is Buying American-made Important? | Brian Moody

At the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch introduction, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “made in America” is critically important. What do you think: Is it important to buy products that are “American-made?” It turns out that phrase isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Let’s think about it in terms of car shopping. When you’re shopping for a new car or certified used car, is it more important to buy from an American company or a company that manufacturers cars in the U.S. (even if that company is based overseas)?

According to a recent poll, nearly 60 percent of people surveyed consider a new car to be American-made only if it’s built in the U.S. by a U.S.-based company.

I think what’s most important is that the car you’re considering is actually built in the U.S., even if the automaker is based elsewhere. Here’s why.

Big Money

The bottom line: It’s all about money. Automakers who build their cars here in the U.S. spend lots of money in the communities where their factories are located.

As you might expect, American companies such as Ford and GM build many of their cars right here in the U.S. Ford builds 16 models in eight different factories within the U.S., and General Motors builds 26 models in 12 different factories around the country. Clearly, if you want the widest variety of American-made cars, you should probably be shopping at a Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC dealership.

Historically, Chrysler has been an American company, but it’s now owned by FIAT, an Italian company. If you really want your new car purchase to benefit American workers, should you leave Chrysler off your shopping list? No. The company continues to build many vehicles in the U.S. — 10 different models in all.

Not So Foreign

What about companies such as Honda, Nissan, Kia and Toyota? They’ve always been based overseas, but they build several models here in the U.S.

For example, most Nissan models come from Mississippi and Tennessee. U.S.-built vehicles include the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Quest and the 2015 Murano, as well as trucks including the Titan, Frontier and Xterra. At their Canton, Mississippi, plant alone, the company employs about 5,600 American workers. Nissan also invested more than $2.5 billion in the Canton factory.
The annual payroll for the Canton plant is around $200 million; that’s millions of dollars going into the economy of Mississippi, buying people food, clothes, cars, homes, TVs and home-improvement supplies. That same factory is also responsible for about $350,000 in charitable donations every year, and Nissan in general spends about $10 million per year for charities, need-based sponsorships and community relations through programs such as Nissan Neighbors and the Nissan Foundation.

Toyota has been building cars in Kentucky for more than 30 years and has contributed nearly $46 million to nonprofit organizations. BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen have a similar impact on local communities across the U.S.

Local Communities

Kia’s West Point, Georgia, plant dropped about $1 billion on the local economy when the automaker built the factory several years ago. That plant manufactures the Kia Optima and Kia Sorento. Kia recently gave the city of West Point $900,000 to use however the city sees fit. I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet that city will use the money on things such as police and fire resources, improving roads, and broader access to city services in general — all major benefits.

Honda also builds several cars here in the U.S., including the popular Honda Accord. In fact, Honda was the first foreign automaker to build cars in the U.S. In total, Honda has a $15.3 billion investment in the U.S. with nine manufacturing facilities in America alone. There are 530 suppliers across 34 states that provide parts and materials to American Honda manufacturing facilities. Those are real jobs held by real people living and paying taxes in the United States.

Build Where They Sell

There is also a less tangible benefit to buying American. Building cars in the country where you sell helps to save on shipping costs, which can help keep prices down or allow a manufacturer to include more safety features without raising a car’s price.

Toyota has stated that its philosophy is to “build where we sell,” and the automaker also maintains that being closer to the customer is important. At first, that sounds like a little bit of public relations rhetoric, but I seriously doubt that Toyota would be able to dominate the small-truck, hybrid and midsize-sedan categories the way they have been without investing some serious time and money into learning how average Americans live and work in the places where Toyota sells cars.

Real work and real results are still accomplished with feet on the ground and learning about your customers the old-fashioned way: meeting them in person and seeing how they live firsthand. You can only hold so many webinars and conference calls before you have to actually do something and get your hands dirty. Toyota knows this; the company builds trucks in San Antonio, Texas, and the Camry in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Next time you shop for a new car, think about where it’s built. If you want your hard-earned paycheck to benefit your neighbors and fellow Americans, consider a car or truck that’s built here in the U.S. That matters a lot more than who owns the company.

Chevrolet Corvette 87.5% made in USA according to Kogod

Chevrolet Corvette 87.5% made in USA according to Kogod School of Business

Editor’s Comment

The Biggest Boost To the U.S. Economy

(From the last sentence of the Moody article) If you want your hard-earned paycheck to benefit your neighbors and fellow Americans, consider a car or truck that’s built here in the U.S. That matters a lot more than who owns the company.

Link To Finding The Most American Car

The Kogod School of Business since 2013 has been publishing a list of automobiles sold in America and grading how much of the automobile is American. They grade the automobiles based on the points they accumulate – for assembly, engine, transmission, parts, company, etc. In a total cop-out, usually a car gets a “1” if the company’s Headquarters is in the USA, and “0” if it is foreign. So, for Chrysler which is owned by Fiat, they give all the Chrysler cars a “0.5”. One other criticism is I think the Kogod gives too much weight to whether the company’s Headquarters is in American. But, Kogod is still the best source of how much your car is American, see Kogod School of Business 2015 Index of Cars.

Buick Enclave 87.5% made in America according to Kogod

Buick Enclave 87.5% made in America according to Kogod

There is one other super cool link which shows by auto manufacturer where there models are made by state and the city that they are made in. See this link at How it works: Go to the link, Click on the car manufacturer like Toyota, GM, etc, and then the models will show up and which city and state where they are assembled.

Other Items

The Huffington Post article covers only the US and Asian auto makers, but BMW and Mercedes manufactures some models in the USA. And Volvo is now owned by a Chinese company.


The Most American Cars for 2014 – Kogod School of Business

Kogod Business School of Business – Made in USA automobiles index for 2014.

One of the most difficult questions to answer is how American is an automobile. The Kogod School of Business did a great job last year classifying each model of automobiles was American by using several categories like country of ownership, country where research is done, where the auto is assembled, and where the transmission, engine and others parts are made. It is great that the Kogod updated the list for 2014. Some of the noted changes are the Ford F-15 series trucks that used to be made in Mexico are now made in Michigan and this makes them the most American made car, tied with the Chevrolet Corvette. Another addition this year is the inclusion of Tesla.

Ford F-15

Ford F-15


Chevrolet Corvette 2014

Chevrolet Corvette 2014


“American Made” Cars Defined

Kogod Made in America Auto Index | Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, DC. That Ford Fusion, made in Mexico  or that Hyundai Santa Fe, made in Montgomery, Alabama, which car is better as far as being “Made in the USA”? One of the most difficult problems is trying to determine is how much of an automobile is “Made in America.” Frank Dubois of the American University’s Kogod School of Business has developed a scale based on  seven criteria as to how much of an automobile is “Made in the USA”. The scale is based on if: 1) the automaker is in the USA; 2) the auto is assembled in the U.S.; 3) Research & Development within the U.S.; 4) Inventory, Capital and Expenses were from within the U.S.; 5) Engine made in U.S.; 6) Transmission made in U.S.; and 7) and body made in the U.S.  The seven criteria or then added up to make a total score. The link surveys 253 automobiles from highest to lowest.

GMC Acadia score 88.5

GMC Acadia score 88.5

The Winner

The top Index score was 88.5 out of a possible 100. However, no automobile scored higher than 40 out of a possible 50 in the “body” section. The top scores were (tie): GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Chevrolet Traverse.

Buick Enclave score 88.5

Buick Enclave score 88.5


Finally, a dependable index to determine the amount of “US Made” percentage in each automobile. The answer to the initial question was the Hyundai Santa Fe with a score of 64.5 over the Ford Fusion with a score of 34. However, starting in 2013, the Ford Fusion will no longer be manufactured in Hermosillo, Mexico and instead, will be manufactured in Flat Rock, Michigan. That will bring up its score by at least 6 points. Before you buy your automobile, check out the link at the top of the blog entry to see how much of the 2013 model is actually made in the USA.

Chevrolet Traverse score 88.5

Chevrolet Traverse score 88.5


Newslink: 2012 Top Automobile Picks served up American style/Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports’ 2012 Top Picks served up American style.Consumer reports on March 5, 2012 lists the official Top Picks of vehicles made in the United States.This link is the companion to Newslink:How important is it to you to buy products made in America.

May 2020


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