I received an
email the other day from Donald Dale of Suffolk, Va. Dale owns a
2008 Buick Enclave, which he was considering replacing with a 2013
Buick Encore. That is, until Dale discovered that the Encore was
built in Korea. Now heís having second thoughts.
jingoist," he said, explaining that he wanted to buy a product
that was built in America and thereby support our economy.
But as Dale
discovered, buying simply by brand name wonít assure you that youíre
and Ford have had international operations for decades. Until
recently, overseas divisions ran independently of their U.S.
corporate parents. Itís not hard to understand why: For most of
that time, the typical American car, truck or van was much larger
than vehicles sold elsewhere.
In the past
few years, rising fuel prices forced many motorists to seek smaller,
more fuel-efficient cars just as the federal government toughened
fuel economy standards.
GM, Ford and Chrysler did what Toyota, Honda and Nissan have done
for decades: Produce one model in a segment and sell it worldwide.
They did this by bringing in the smaller car designs that they built
Motorsí German Opel division designed the Opel Insignia, and itís
sold here as the Buick Regal. GMís Australian division, Holden,
built the platform that underpins the Chevrolet Camaro. And remember
Korean automaker Daewoo? Itís now GM Korea; it engineered and
builds the Chevrolet Cruze, Spark and Sonic, and the Buick Encore.
small-car lineup, including the Fiesta, Focus and C-Max, has a
European feel because Fordís European operations created them.
Fordís EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine is built in Spain; the Ford
Fusion is built in Mexico.
majority-owned by Fiat, builds the Dodge Dart in Illinois with a
U.S. engine. It sports an Italian transmission and a platform
derived from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Is the Dodge American or
Italian? Is Chrysler an American company or a European one?
are becoming harder to answer.
meantime, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia,
Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and BMW have manufacturing plants in the
United States. According to Automotive News, 39 percent of all U.S.
auto industry employees work for a foreign automaker.
If such things
matter to you, look at the price sticker on the new car or truck you
intend to buy. There, youíll find a box titled "parts content
information." It lists the country of origin for that vehicleís
parts, engine, transmission and final assembly point.
competing compact sedans: the Honda Civic and the Chevrolet Cruze.
Civic is built in Marysville, Ohio. The Cruze is built in
Greensburg, Indiana. Both facts can be found on their price sticker.
And so can this one: 65 percent of the parts on a Honda Civic come
from the U.S. or Canada. For the Chevrolet Cruze? 45 percent.
Which car is
the import and which the domestic?
In a world in
which nothing is certain but changing times, old assumptions are
hard to dismiss; the facts, much more so.