What is "Buying American" when it comes to cars?
I've been asking this question for a long time now to various people of all types.
When the collective "we" say, "Buy American!" or "I buy American", what does that really mean? The answer is as varied as each person answering. Some people define it by figuring out what percentage of the whole is "american parts" and how much is from anywhere else. Other people will define it by trying to figure out how much of the purchase price stays here in America and how much of it leaves the country. Yet others simply define it as "Who is the parent company and/or where is the company's WHQ ("World Headquarters")?"
I just read that it's likely Hummer is going to be sold to a Chinese company. So it got me back to thinking, "Is Hummer still going to be considered an American brand?" (I'm basing this on my assumption that Hummer has always been American brand since it started within the military.) If I decide to buy a new hummer in 2011 (assuming production continues), am I going to be branded as someone one notch below that of a terrorist, the dreaded "unAmerican"?
I believe that in today's world economy and market, even for the past 15-20 years, the lines have been blurring more and more with every passing year of what it means to "Buy American". Our civilization has made it easy to shrink the globe. Back in the early 1900's it was unheard of to think that Henry Ford would have a solid presence in Japan and equally out of the realm to consider a company from across the globe setting up shop in the USA. Now, if a company doesn't have a global presence, they really aren't that big. And of course this global presence leads to partnerships of various magnitudes in many different areas. We're global and yet we're all more interconnected than ever before.
As soon as an American company starts into some type of partnership with a foreign company, be it japanese, german, mexican, canadian, etc., does it cease to be an American company?
Was Chrysler still an "American Company" when it was bought in part by Daimler-Benz? Now that Daimler-Benz got rid of the part of Chrysler that it had, is Chrysler back to being an American company? What about Ford's dealings with Jaguar? Was the Jaguar no longer british when Ford started essentially making some of them?
What about companies that share platforms and/or crossbreed the vehicles? Is the new GTO an american car when it's origins are Austrailian? It's been many years now, but I still recall a friend of mine who had a Plymouth with Mitsubishi stampings under the hood. The engine was clearly and plainly stamped Mitsubishi! So was his Plymouth an American Car? Did he buy an American car? All these partnerships and crossbreeding has me thoroughly confused as to what the general concensus is regarding "What is an American car?"
I mean really, what's more American than Plymouth! Plymouth Rock, people! Short of the Statue Of Liberty, Plymouth Rock is America! (Of course, the Statue Of Liberty was a gift built by and presented from the French, so maybe ol' Lady Liberty is a bad example.)
Since parent companies all seem to be sleeping with each other to some extent, maybe I should try to figure out an answer based on where the car is manufactured. Or assembled? Two distinct & different ideas in my book.
I won't delve too much into the manufacturing aspect because quite frankly you could drill down to the minutae of it and not be any closer to an answer. "Well the engine was cast here in America by American workers." "But the iron or aluminum was shipped over from China." That's getting too deep to be able to establish a solid foundation for an answer. So let's figure out if the assembly fares any better.
My daily driver is a Nissan Altima and if I recall correctly I saw on the car a sticker stating that the car was like 63% assembled in America and the remaining 37% in Japan. Does that mean my car is mostly American? At least 63% American? What about Honda's that are 100% assembled in Ohio?
The Honda Accord and Acura TL are 100% built in Marysville, Ohio. The plant is the sole global distribution point for those cars. Are these Hondas/Acuras American cars or Japanese cars?
What about all the GM products manufactured in Mexico? Or our beloved Chevy Camaro now being produced entirely in Canada? Are these cars still American? Why? Because the parent company GM has their WHQ in America? That might be enough for some people. But what does that really mean in the grand scheme of things? What if the CEO or any number of the executives are of foreign descent or birth? Then it's like trying to figure out assembly percentages again. Whoa...my head is starting to spin!
OK, so forget about where the car is assembled or where the WHQ is located. How about we just decide where your's and my hard earned money ends up. For me, I don't have concrete numbers to back this up, but I'm going to make some general assertions anyways. (Hey, this is my thread, I can do that! )
There are people that will outright condemn someone for buying a Honda Accord. Buying that "Japanese junk!". (Yes, let's just skip over the ignorance of that type of statement when talking about the Accords.) Yet this car is produced and manufactured entirely by American workers on American soil; all taxpaying citizens (we hope). And that very likely goes all the way up the line to the plant manager. They all live in Ohio. They all pay federal taxes. They all contribute to the local economy in Marysville, Ohio and where ever else their personal income ends up. These are American employees doing their part to live their version of The American Dream. And yet these cars are not American?
The naysayers will say, "Yeah, but the big bucks go back over to Japan!" Really? What percentage of the money spent to purchase an Accord goes back over to Japan? If a majority of the money went back to Japan, I don't believe the plant could afford to be profitable and thus wouldn't stay operational. So obviously much of that money is staying in Ohio with Americans like you and me.
Consider how many people have a hand in making each car. A couple hundred on the line alone? Plus the building maintenance people. Plus the people involved in logistics/transportation. Plus management. I reckon there's a LOT of people that are getting a cut of the money spent on each car produced there.
But what about that money going back to the WHQ in Japan? How much really goes back there? And even if we can't right now assign a number or a percentage, how many people overseas are actually receiving that money? How many mouths in America are being fed by each Accord sold versus the number of mouths in Japan? I've venture that the number of American mouths being fed by each Accord sold is far far greater than the number of Japanese mouths being fed. And at that, we're probably serving more middle class / working class folks over here like you and me as opposed to an already well heeled upper class few in Japan, such as the senior management, board members, etc.
If people stopped buying an import because some of that money goes overseas, would you really want to sacrifice hundreds of Americans like you and me for the sake of putting the pinch on a few big shots overseas? The folks like you and me would be out of a job whereas the big shots across the globe would be merely inconvenienced.
So! Back to our Hummer. It started as a vehicle for the US Armed Forces. It's consumer division is now likely by the time you read this to be spun off to a Chinese company. Are our Hoo-Rah Hummers no longer American? If I decide to buy an H4 (assuming such a model will exist), will I be branded as unAmerican? Regardless if the car is American or not, call me what you will, but if I'm helping to put food on the plates of American families, my neighbors, my family, then I feel pretty damn good about myself as an American overall.
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Originally Posted by MaineShark
All comments are welcome. I only ask a couple things, all standard netiquette but worth repeating.
1) Keep it civil. This kind of topic can easily go off course or might touch a personal nerve with some. Keep it civil.
2) If you want to respond to a certain part of my post, please do not quote the entire post. Keep the important pieces you are replying to and discard/delete the rest. There's little reason to have my entire post replicated numerous times throughout this thread.
Have at it!
Buying American: To purchase a vehicle from an American company(Global Headquarters is located in America), the vehicle is assembled in America and 51% of that vehicle's parts are made in America.
L8TR - D
Evolution1980: that was a very well written piece. Right now we are all in a state of shock with the passing of our good friend (GM). Now it is like after the death of a family member, all the relatives come out of the woodwork to claim some property. We knew it would happen but now it doesnt seem possible.
From what I read the Hummer was bought by a chinese company. I think that eventually they will bring production back to China after they have stolen all our technology. Remember as you noted this was originally a machine of war and I assume that they will later continue with that.
You mentioned that it really doesn't matter whose nameplate is on a car as long as it is built here. I dont agree.
There is national pride, military preparedness, and of course a place for Americans to work with a sense of accomplishment. By having a good manufacturing base in this country we can produce our own military equipment instead of outsourcing to our enemies!! We have become a country producing nothing and consuming much. we buy many useless products from china which last a day at most and in return they buy few but select manufacturing/production equiment which they use to strengthen their military. Notice how we send our good stuff out!! We dont update our own manufacturing.
NOW we are heading into total socialism. We owe multi TRILLION$ and our production corporations, and banks are gone. I heard someone say " We will be the most environmentally clean third world nation".
Enjoy ... We got the change that we wanted.
Dre.. While i cant comment on the Patriotic aspect of the "Buying American" part, to a foreigner, it's the nameplate that counts. If someone buys an American car here in Europe, it doesnt really matter where it was built. As an example, the Dodge Magnum i have and brought with me to Germany was built in Canada, even the Title is run under Chrysler-Canada and yes, all people i meet that see it, consider it American.
Same with it's cousin, the Chrysler 300c Touring a friend of mine has, basically, the same car as the Magnum, but with a Chrysler front and some Euro spec parts. Everyone considers it American. Though that one is built in Austria, by Magna-Steyr (The folks buying Opel right now). At the same time, Opel is/was always considered german, although it belongs(ed) to GM. The American part only came to play when it came down to Govt monies and the talk of the German Govt lending money to Opel. The fear was that that would go to the US, ie. GM.
So, basically, my current thinking is, that this has become a Global World Market. With giving and taking. In the Western Worls at least, there is quite the flow of goods and monies across nations borders and thus i dont think, one can conclusively call a product this or that.
Btw, i think the same about societies, really. It is becoming more and more a global affair. Personally, i am living that. My wife is American, i am German. Our child is both. (And she's not a bad combo either.. ) We have friends and family in either place. We drive American cars for their engine and looks but live here. We travel back and forth as the budget allows.
Ok, enough of the outsiders view.
Good post! I made a resolution back at the first of the year to buy American products whenever possible. I figured that we all need lots of products regularly in our day to day life (shoes, shirts, etc.) and that even the smaller items could make a difference. After a few futile searches in department stores, I searched on the internet for American made products.
It's not that easy. I'm still looking every time I'm buying for the American option, but they're just NOT available.
Thanks for starting this thread Andre.
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I have a Hummer H3 and I understand a good part of the H3 is rebadged Isuzu... In case you weren't aware of it, Isuzu used to 49% owned by GM but has repurchased it's stock over a number of years. Despite this, Isuzu continues to do some codevelopment with GM, particularly on diesel engines and trucks. Currently, Isuzu is partly owned by Toyota (5.9%).
Strangely enough, Isuzu has cooperated in the past with Rootes (UK), Geo, Honda and Suburu. As of January 2009, Isuzu withdrew from the North American market... but GM continues to sell rebadged Isuzu products like the Colorado and Envoy as well as the H3...
When it comes to the "Buy American" mantra, it's usually initiated and sustained by self-serving groups like the UAW and CAW. Given the role both played in the bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler... pretty ironic...
I sent out an email to my friends not on the CAC and linked to my editorial. Here is a snippet from a couple of responses.
"...if the product brings a greater portion of income/wealth to the Americans (and their families) that produced it, then that product should, by all means, be considered American to the buying public...that is the ultimate goal of "buying American"...to bring wealth and prosperity to American citizens..."
"Its American if: the company lasted in some form through the 1929 Depression. If it has multiple brands & models differentiated only by buzz-word model names (e.g. Caprice; Lark; Volare; or 500). If the tailights get turned sideways every even numbered year for that "All New For '10" look. If you cannot get a light in the glovebox without buying Comfort & Convenience Group A-4710 provided you did order metallic paint and tan pinstripes. If the parent corporation fought Congress tooth & nail to back off from their CAFE numbers for another 10 years. And you definitely bought American if its a truck- meaning not a car- so that passenger vehicle crash safety, emissions and braking standards don't apply letting the Big Three push less metal for more money down the throats of the buying public while Madison Avenue tells them they're so cool, macho and safe high up in the cabs of their fossil fuel gobbling Navigators/Rams/Silverados."
That last one also went on to include an amusing, if not amusingly accurate, description of German, Italian, Japanese, French, and British cars.
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173 views to this thread so far and less than 5 (!!!) people have stated what they consider an American Car. Is everyone just as confused as I am? Or are you afraid to give your opinion lest you draw the ire of someone that disagrees with you?
Allow me to potentially change the question slightly:
"What criteria needs to be met by the manufacturer or car itself in order to qualify as 'buying an American car'?"
Evolution... You are so right we are all confused. It is not so much as the brand or even what parts come from where, it is the whole idea that the USA is being sold out and the country that we knew is no more. This is the ONLY country in the wordl that bends over backwards and does somersalts for foreigners and does everything to s*r*w its own people. The auto industry is getting like the electronics industry - NOTHING is made here anymore. We keep telling ourselves that we want to buy American, but the truth that we are evading is that there is no more American car. When some people say that they wish that they could go to the home of their youth - what they are really saying is that they want to go back in time. Sadly you cant go back.
It has been mentioned that eventually we will be an environmentally clean 3rd world country. BTW who will be buying these new cars?? Or said another way who can afford them?? Henry Ford had a wild idea that if you paid your employees well, they could afford/buy the cars they made.
Me three.. Pls..
Originally Posted by Evolution1980
I disagree. We do the same, though we do not have the patriotic thing anymore.
Originally Posted by njlouc
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