• Jun 22, 2009
Now that the "Cash for Clunkers" bill has passed Congress is ready for President Obama's signature, the next question is: What car should you buy with your trade-in bonus? There were two primary motivations behind this legislation, economic and environmental. From an environmental perspective the idea is to get older, more polluting and fuel consuming vehicles off the road. On the economic side, Congress wanted to stimulate sales of new cars, especially domestically built models.

Since the 1970s when CAFE regulations first came into effect, the question of what qualifies as a "domestic vehicle" has become increasingly muddy. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, any car built in the U.S., Canada or Mexico with a minimum percentage of North American-sourced parts and labor qualifies as a domestic. However, the domestic/import fleet split in CAFE has caused automakers to play games by using more overseas parts to cut get them classed as imports – even when they are built in North America. Determining what car is built where is increasingly difficult for those that want to spend their hard-earned cash (or their Clunker voucher) on an American made car. Thankfully, The New York Times is here to help. They've produced an interactive database chronicling which vehicles are actually built in the US along with where major parts like engines and transmissions come from. The NYT tool is easy and enlightening to use, as it reveals interesting tidbits like the fact that Ford's Fusion Hybrid is assembled in Mexico while the Toyota Camry Hybrid hails from Kentucky. Hat tip to JZeke!

[Source: New York Times]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The domestic manufacture and assembly was actually more than I expected. The foreign assembly was not only lower than I expected, but closer than I expected. I'd much rather have my money go to Canada and Mexico than Asia.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think I have already spotted a couple errors:

      The origin of the auto trans in the Colorado and Canyon pickups, and the origin of the engine in the Traverse. The NYTimes states they are imported, but I have seen stickers on vehicles at the lot showing American sources.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The VIN code has country of assembly in it.

      And a whole host of American products from American companies are assembled or made abroad, like the iPod and name brand clothing.

      Does that automatically make an iPod Chinese? Or a name brand shirt Indonesian? Does it not benefit American companies here in America? Is a BMW assembled in South Africa any less German? Is Coke bottled in France suddenly a French beverage? Or a McDonalds in Japan Japanese?

      Obviously we know from Toyota's success (and crash due to their dependence on the US new vehicle market) that buying a Toyota assembled in the US enriches the company back at home in Japan just as buying one assembled in Japan does.

      It's no different for Ford or GM. They are American businesses working globally just like any other. Their gains abroad supported them here at home and their losses here at home are destroying them and US jobs. That's quite plain to see. If people suddenly stopped buying iPods assembled in China it would certainly hurt Apple here at home just the same.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The only one that matters is where the company that made it is BASED. If it's Japan, Korea, or India it's not an American car no matter how many times you say it and how many magnetic flags you stick on it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My daughter has a '96 Grand Cherokee she needs to get rid of, but I doubt that any of the vehicles on that list are in her price range.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So are the Camry,Accord and Sonata considered to be American cars?
      • 5 Years Ago
      so, if I buy a VW (made in Germany, Mexico, Brazil). I'm not helping the local economy? so... some German firms owns the dealership that I purchase from? they also own the service bay that do maintenance... or hire the truck driver that drove it from the dock to the dealer? they must also pay the guy (German living in Germany?) that washes it prior to me getting it? Yup, buying foreign doesn't help the local economy at all. My purchase doesn't help the newspaper were the ads are run.
      How ungrateful of me to not help some American union worker!
        • 5 Years Ago
        What the hell are you talking about? You feel bad for like 3 americans that will make minimum wage to truck your car from a seaport or wash it? You do realize that cars from the D3 go through the same process (except being shipped across an ocean). I'd rather buy a better car that is made in America, Canada, or Mexico, with profits going to an American based company.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting to have all the info summarized.

      As John McElroy has pointed out in this blog a number or times, the location of the design, development, engineering, research, testing, etc. are probably more critical to the economic impact compared with the location that the parts are assembled at. In that case, Ford, GM, and Chrysler tend to have a greater impact than foreign automakers. Although the differences are large between the foreign brands as well, with Honda having more development performed in the US compared with Hyundai who does relatively little here.
        • 5 Years Ago
        While Honda does build more models in the US than Hyundai/Kia due to its couple of decades head start, Hyundai/Kia actually has a substantial design/engineering presence in the US to go along w/ the 2 factories in Alabama and Georgia.

        Hyundai has a $30 million design center in Irvine, CA; a 200,000 sq. ft./$117 million technical center in Michigan; and a $50 million proving ground/test center in California City, CA.

        Kia also has a $150 million design center in Irvine, CA.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Its all about your prospective.

      If its built in Canada or Mexico how can it be American?.

      If its built in America using American parts its American.
      If its built in Japan using Japanese parts its Japanese.

      Most cars contain parts from many countries, even the parts contain parts from other countries, far more then you would imagine, Id almost bet there is no such thing as a 100% pure American car.

      People get concerned about brand names, most of the these auto companies are owned by stock holders no matter what country they live in.

      Buying an American Brand just makes some of you people feel better, The old Chevy Luv was an Isuzu made in Japan, Id say that supported the Japanese more than Americans even thought it had an American brand name.

      It all depends who you want to support, The Brand name, stockholder, Assembly worker or parts maker, the choice is yours.

      Someone mentioned Toyota and its financial problems, Yes they are suffering but its not all because of American sales, many countries car sales are down Japan Included.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "It all depends who you want to support, The Brand name, stockholder, Assembly worker or parts maker, the choice is yours."

        I don't know what article you're reading. I saw more American branded cars with American assembly and American engine/tranny than I did foreign ones. Those American branded cars with foreign parts had parts from friendly countries (I don't consider Japan friendly). Those American branded cars that were assembled outside of the US, were still in North America.

        As far as I'm concerned, if you want to support your friends and neighbors, the American branded cars stand out.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a VW Golf built in US (Westmoreland County plant, 1987)
      I went to BigOtires (http://www.bigotires.com) for new tires and alignment.

      I was surprised that they wanted to charge my car as European
      and asked $100 for alignment for instead of $80 for other cars.

      I explained that my car was built in US and shown my VIN.

      Since they did not wanted to negociate, I went somewhere else, and also
      got some Michelin instead of BFGoodRich
      • 5 Years Ago
      you can look at this 3 ways. Where the car is built. Which country sees the profits, or where do the majority of parts come from.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's pretty shocking to see where these so-called Domestics from the D3 are actually produced: many in Canada and Mexico, as well as the engine and transmissions being manufactured in Mexico, France and Japan.

      Guess all that Flag Waving was all for naught.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The domestics sell in Canada and Mexico.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If I see a union label, I'll look at something else.

      The UAW needs to be kicked to the curb and the sooner the better.

      Union labor has had a big percentage in destroying manufacturing jobs because of class envy; union workers need to realize that if they can't make a living working where they are, they need to move on and find something that pays better, period.

      The world doesn't owe you a living.
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