Many of us have seen a coworker, neighbor, or friend purchase and prominently display a "Buy American" bumper sticker on their domestic automobile. However, in this changing global economy which has seen Toyota and Honda building new factories, design centers, and more in the U.S. and domestic automakers moving their production overseas, are "American" automobiles really that American anymore?
A Cars.com study compares the Ford F-150, a classic "American" vehicle, and the Toyota Camry in its annual American-Made Index and comes to a shocking conclusion -- the Japanese automobile has more American parts in it than the truck. The study, in fact, finds Toyota Motor Corp. to be the most "American" company based on multiple factors.
The thorough study takes into account several critical factors including where the vehicles are assembled, their popularity based on sales volume, and the percentage of the parts made in the U.S. based on the cost or value of those parts. After five years as the most "American" vehicle, the Ford F-150 truck was dethroned in a shocking upset by the Toyota Camry.
Toyota didn't stop there -- it picked up the sixth spot with its Sienna minivan, the seventh spot with its Tundra full-size pickup, and the tenth spot with its new Venza crossover.
Patrick Olsen, editor of Cars.com comments, "This year was unique for our index, to say the least. The difficult sales environment and changes in cars' domestic-parts content -- both important factors in our index's equation -- played a huge role in how the rankings changed from last year."
While American manufacturers such as GM and Chrysler have slashed American jobs in mass layoffs as part of survival bids, Toyota and Honda have held the line, and in fact have created some new ones. Toyota just resumed construction on a $1.3B USD Prius plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi. The new plant will bring hundreds of jobs and will likely build the Matrix, Corolla, Tacoma truck, and possibly the Yaris, in addition to the Prius.
One thing worth noting is that the percentages were not based solely on the parts -- for example, the Ford Taurus had the highest percentage of American parts, with 90 percent of the parts made in America. Lows sales volumes of 2,000 units a month versus 25,000 Camrys a month relegated the Taurus to ninth on the list, though. Of the American manufacturers, GM and Ford were the "most American".
Some representatives of the traditional domestic auto industry are taking offense at the study. Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics of Birmingham, MI, a firm that works closely with GM, Chrysler and others, called the study "spurious". Hall says that when it comes to the study calling Toyota "most American", in terms of validity ”It's like Michael Jackson saying he's the King of Pop."