The Detroit Free Press undertook what had to be an excruciating task - breaking down the content of vehicles from the top six manufacturers in the U.S. - to determine how much of the vehicle Americans are buying is actually "domestic" or "foreign". These are murky waters, even for those of us that work in the auto industry.
Various trade agreements make the task difficult right from the start. Canadian content is lumped in with that from the U.S. (perhaps because of the North American Free Trade Agreement), although parts from Mexico are still considered to be "foreign". Then there are assemblies built with parts from numerous countries, and trying to assign a yes-or-no label to something with content from a half-dozen countries can be an exercise in futility.
Then there's the tendency of automakers to fudge the numbers. For example, 64% of the Chevrolet HHR's parts come from Mexico, where it is built. But GM states on the window sticker that it has 85% domestic content. GM explains that it uses an average of content from its larger SUVs (mostly made in the US) when determining the HHR's content; a twist of logic that causes us here at the Autoblog Towers to furrow our brows and utter comments at our computer monitors that cannot be repeated in polite company.
It'll probably come as no surprise to most of our readers that the domestic content of the "domestics" is continuing on a downward trend, and that of the "foreign" manufacturers continues to climb. But we're quite certain that much of the general public is unaware of that trend.
We highly recommend reading the entire article, as it's one of the best "inside baseball" stories that we've come across in a while.