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How much of our cars are made in America?

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Which has more American parts, the Chevrolet Malibu or the Honda Accord?

Buying American was once a heavy pitch to U.S. consumers from the Big Three. Now the U.S. hosts automotive factories from German, Korean and Japanese-based manufacturers. While there is no car is built solely from U.S. parts, there are cars from overseas companies that have more American parts than cars from American companies.

So between the Accord and the Malibu? The Honda's 80 percent is a car length ahead of the Malibu's 75 percent.

Consumer Reports has an interesting read with several "made in America" breakdowns.

Here is a list of vehicles with highest percentage of American parts:

Model % of parts made in America
Ford Explorer 85%
Dodge Dakota 84%
Dodge Avenger 83%
Dodge Grand Caravan 82%
Chrysler 200 81%
Toyota Tundra 80%
Toyota Sequoia 80%
Toyota Camry 80%
Toyota Avalon 80%
GMC Savana 80%
Dodge Nitro 80%
Chrysler Town & Country 80%
Honda Accord 80%

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This Data is Flawed - Big Time!

The problem with this article (which is not the author's fault) is the domestic content percentages published by the government are very misleading and flat-out inaccurate.   Many numbers are inflated because of the use of supplier sub-assembly parks.  (There are other reasons, too, but this is the main one.)  These parks are most common amongst the new wave of plants built by the Japanese, Korean and European automakers. 

For example, they list the Toyota Tundra at 80% domestic content which is totally false.  It is actually well under 50%.  How is that the case?  I'll explain:

Outside of the Toyota plant in San Antonio they have numerous supplier parks that assemble some components for Toyota.  I'll give you an example of their "suspension module."  They get their suspension spring, shock, cap, etc all from Japan or China.  Those parts are flown into this supplier subassembly park and put together into a "suspension module" by non-Toyota workers.  The suspension module is then sent across the street where the workers in the Toyota plant assemble it to the chassis going down the line.

So what is the problem?  Domestic content is based on "end-item" part numbers.  Those suspension parts were ASSEMBLED in the US into a suspension module, therefore that whole suspension module is the end-item part (not the individual pieces) since that big module goes into the Toyota plant as one group.  Given that module was assembled in the US the value of that whole module (parts + subassembly labor) is counted as domestic content even though none of the parts actually came from the US. 

If they did not sub-assemble all these parts and just sent them individually into the main Toyota plant, then all of them would have counted as imported parts. 

Ford, GM and Chrysler have lobbied for years to get the calculation changed to account for this but they have not been successful.  They have proposed to give credit for the subassembly labor but the individual parts should not be counted as domestic.  In addition to suspension parts, this is done with engines, transmissions, instrument panels, seats, electrical items, wheels and tires, etc.   It is quite easy to significantly increase your domestic content percent by using subassembly parts.  (Plus, you also get the benefit of lower-cost labor versus an OEM plant.)

 

This sounds like a reat post

This sounds like a great post for another day. Thanks for sharing ... and doing it without drawing blood.

Great stat

As I read thru this I wonder where all the Ford & GM cars are?  Didn't we bail them out to protect US jobs?  How about the Chevy Volt? Wasn't that the car that was going to be the future of US auto manufacturing - where is that produced?  This chart should be on everybodys mind when they go shopping for autos!

Ford was not part of the

Ford was not part of the bailout....and if all of these car companies are very similiar with their % of parts made in the US, then why should anyone need to keep this chart on their mind?

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About the blogger

matthewmugMatthew Fortner has been at The News & Observer since 2002. He has a passion for gadgets, cutting-edge technology and all things geek.
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