• 317
These days, automakers manufacture and assemble vehicle... These days, automakers manufacture and assemble vehicle parts all over the globe, which makes it difficult to find a car that is 100% American (Chrysler).

It used to be pretty obvious which cars were built in the U.S. (Detroit's Big Three of Ford, GM and Chrysler) and which weren't (everything else). Then in the 1980’s the Japanese started building cars here, which made for some interesting arguments about what constituted an “American” car. But in today’s global economy, it's even harder to answer the question: Is your car made in America?

Many consumers looking to buy an American-built vehicle are having a hard time finding one that's assembled here with 100-percent American-built components. That’s because it's actually impossible, at least if you’re talking about buying a car from the major carmakers.

Made In U.S.A. (Partly)

For example, while Jeep's Patriot may be built in Belvedere, Ill., its transmissions originate in Mexico, Japan and Germany. Similarly Ford's Michigan-assembled Mustang may be as American as mom, Marines, and apple pie, but its transmissions come from China, France, the U.K., and Mexico. Chrysler's PT Cruiser isn’t even built in the U.S. – it’s assembled in Toluca, Mexico, though its transmission is U.S.-sourced. GM, meanwhile, builds its Chevy Camaro in Canada and its GMC Sierra pickup in Mexico.

Confusing? Yes. But that’s not the start of it. BMWs are now built in the U.S. and so are some Mercedes vehicles (in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Vance, Alabama, respectively). With Japanese carmakers having established multiple assembly plants across the U.S. and American car companies operating plants in Canada and Mexico lines are blurred further.

So what makes a car American? It's a rancorous debate that's sure to rumble on, but consumers can make up their own minds based on information that’s appeared on the labels of every new car for sale for years. This states where the vehicle was assembled and where the engine and transmission originated.

Mark Birmingham, an industry analyst at the Center for Automotive Research, said consumers who want to buy American primarily should look at where the vehicle is assembled, as often that indicates a large presence not just in manufacturing.

“There is something to be said for buying a Detroit ‘Big Three’ label,” he said, “in the sense that all of administrative, development and white-collar work is indirectly supported."

Who Builds What Where?

Ford’s Fusion, Fiesta, and Lincoln MKZ models are built in Mexico, while the Edge, Flex, Lincoln MKX, and Lincoln MKT are built in Canada. Other North American models are built in the U.S.

According to NHTSA documents provided to AOL Autos, Ford’s compact Focus is assembled in Wayne, Mich., with 90 percent of its parts sourced from the U.S. and Canada, but its transmission originates in Germany. While the Taurus is assembled in Chicago, Ill., about 65 percent of its parts are of U.S. origin. But its engine and transmission are both built in the U.S.

The F-Series pickup truck, that most iconic of domestic vehicles, is assembled in Kansas City, Missouri, and Dearborn, Michigan, but with just 55 percent of parts made in the U.S. or Canada. More than 15 percent of its parts come from Mexico, although all of its engines and both transmission systems are built in the U.S. Some transmissions for the Mustang (assembled in Flat Rock, Michigan) come from China.

GM vehicles assembled in Canada include Chevrolet's Camaro, Equinox and Impala and the GMC Terrain, while vehicles built in Mexico include Cadillac's SRX and Escalade EXT, Chevrolet's Aveo, HHR, Silverado, and GMC's Sierra. GM vehicles built in the U.S. include Buick's LaCrosse, Lucerne and Enclave, Cadillac's CTS, DTS and STS-V, Chevrolet's Cruze, Corvette, Malibu and Tahoe, and GMC's Yukon.

According to figures from IHS Global Insight, of the GM vehicles assembled domestically, several Corvette engines are built in Canada, with several transmission variants originating in Mexico. Its Chevrolet Silverado (assembled in Fort Wayne, Indiana) carries U.S.-built engines across all models, but several transmissions are built in Mexico. For the Cadillac CTS assembled in Lansing, Mich., several engines originate in Canada and Mexico, and the transmissions for various models in the CTS range come from Japan, France, Mexico, and the U.S. Some engines for GM's Chevrolet Cruze, assembled in Lordstown, Ohio, come from Szentgotthard, Hungary.

Chrysler says about 61 percent of the components it uses for its Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep lines come from the U.S., while about 20 percent come from Mexico and Latin America, about 10 percent from Canada and just under 10 percent from the rest of the world. It maintains large production facilities across the U.S., but also builds its 300 and Dodge Challenger and Charger, in Canada, and the PT Cruiser in Mexico.

Of the Big Three's foreign competition, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Kia all proudly trumpet their domestic-built credentials. (Honda was the first Japanese carmaker to build a car plant in the U.S., in Marysville, Ohio., in 1979, and more Honda vehicles are now built in the U.S. than in Japan.) Toyota builds its Camry and Avalon models in Georgetown, Kentucky, its Sienna and Highlander in Princeton, Indiana, and has large plants in Huntsville, Alabama, and San Antonio, Texas. Hyundai builds the Sonata and Elantra in Montgomery, Alabama, and shares a plant in West Point, Georgia, with Kia, which recently celebrated the 100,000th Sorento rolling off that line.

Nissan and VW both have longstanding ties to Mexico, with plants in Aguascalientes and Cuernavaca (Nissan) and Puebla (VW). Nissan assembles its small cars like the Versa in Mexico and its larger truck and SUV lines in Smyrna, Georgia. VW imports all its vehicles into the U.S., though it will be opening a new plant in Tennessee.

Mercedes-Benz assembles its ML-, R- and G-Class vehicles in Vance, Alabama, with a U.S./Canadian parts content of 62 percent, but both its engines and transmissions are unsurprisingly sourced from Germany. BMW, meanwhile, assembles its X-series SUVs in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with mostly German componentry.

Electric carmaker Tesla's bodywork is completed by Lotus in England, and then shipped to California for assembly. It will jointly develop electric cars with Toyota at the NUMMI plant in Northern California.

It's a little surprising that some excellent automotive products are born of such a mix and muddle of production systems. But today's intertwined global economy – and car market – ensures that no matter where it comes from, today's cars mostly are built to high standards.

Otherwise, Americans wouldn't buy them.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 317 Comments
      rjweishaar
      • 3 Months Ago
      The rest of the world seems to be willing to give a better effort than Americans in general. We need to get rid of the "Entitlement" chip on our shoulders and get back to a better work effort. Unions are only effective if jobs are to be found; without work, there are no unions. We need to start prioritizing where we want to be in 20, 40, and 60 years from now. We need to stop trying to keep up with the Jones' and start working for a vaible future. It all goes back to basic values: a full day's pay for a full day's job. Put away the Blackberry and focus on work. Start having respect for the person standing in front of you instead of the person who is buzzing your cellphone. Reward the good worker and fire the bad ones. It's not rocket science, it's common sence. RW, Hemet
      • 3 Months Ago
      Now I don't feel so bad about liking my Toyota, RAV4. Besides, my son, a mechanic , says the parts for it are made in the US.
      punnster
      • 3 Months Ago
      We don't compete making cars and parts and we don't compete drilling and refining our own oil. Guess we have lost our competitive edge.
      • 3 Months Ago
      Its just sad !!
      Mark
      • 3 Months Ago
      The way to tell where your car or truck manufactured is the first letter or number on the VIN. The #1 is US built, #2 Canada, #3 Mexico. Cars with VIN starting with the letter "J" are made in Japan, "K" Korea and so on. No matter where your car or truck assembled it does not mean every part on that car manufactured in that country. Parts supplied from all over the world, this constant complicated supply of parts is replenished within hours of the manufacture running out of that part.
      • 3 Months Ago
      Why do articles like this exist? Always bragging about the imports. You my friend need to read up on Ford, because I think you have some old data. No bail-out and quality that the foreign companies can't touch. JD Powers ranked ford in the top 5 car manufacturers in the world.What kind of tax incentives are the foreign companies receiving for manufacturing in the USA? The money these foreign companies make are sent right back to Japan, Korea etc. Not spent in the good ol USA!
      • 3 Months Ago
      I was in the union for over 30 years, But I'v tried to only buy MADE IN USA ,not union made. When i seen things made other than that i ask [ what you going to do when the people of the USA can't buy your product because they don't have a job? ] WE need to start right now and say if you can't uses the people of the USA to make and build your product then you go and live on what your paying CHINA,MEXICO and exct. people. Start NOW tell GM,FORD,JEEP , KENMORE, RCA, WE need their help to keep US working, lets only send the people to washington that will help us keep our jobs,LETS pull as one. HE-- I'm not running but I can see we are looseing more JOBS everyday, Even if they can build it FREE who's going to BUY their product, THINK AMERICA before its to late.
      Charles Clifford
      • 3 Months Ago
      Over 50% American made is American made and close to that but assembled in America is also American-made in my book. Just give us a report and charts so we have all the information. I dont think I have all the information, even after your article. I dont want to buy Chinese. Lets all stand up and shout it; NO MORE CHINESE PRODUCTS!!!!!
      whelaniii
      • 3 Months Ago
      I understand GM is going to build a new plant in Mexico thats why I don,t like the people we have in Washington now they bail them out then they build out of the country
      • 3 Months Ago
      Oh Yeah..Craig. Where's the percentage of the Asian car parts that are made in the US and Elsewhere? You so proudly post where the Detroit Three's parts come from!
      woodies123
      • 3 Months Ago
      JK Jeep, 2008, recall trans, boil over, Thisis the fix, an idiot lit, buzzer, ding, or some other sort of devise to alert you to the over heat, NOTE: NO SOLUTION< BELL< OR WHATEVER YOU CALL IT. THAT DOES NOT FIX THE PROBLEM>> I WILL>.. Mark Wood. SCREW YOU JEEP FOR LETTING THIS HAPPEN
      Spinnaker
      • 3 Months Ago
      God help me ! I can't believe the ignorance of people who actually get paid to WRITE this stuff. Yes, US cars (like all cars made everywhere) are a conglomeration of parts from around the world. But, you have missed the point. WHEN THE CARS ARE SOLD WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO ? IF IT IS MADE BY FORD OR GM , THE MONEY STAYS IN THE USA AND THEY PAY US TAXES TO OUR US TREASURY ! DUH ! ( Can't speak for Chrysler because the ownership is 'murky". Its NOT Fiat as you might think. They only own 10% of the company) But cars assembled in the US by US companies generate taxes for the USA, not a Foreign country. Got it ?
    • Load More Comments