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Thread: When "American" cars aren't... .

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    When "American" cars aren't... .

    When "American" cars aren't... .
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    "Buy American" is an understandable sentiment -- but consider the following facts:

    * Toyota has created some 360,000 jobs in the United States; the best-selling passenger car in the United States is a Toyota -- the U.S.-built Camry. A new truck plant in Texas near San Antonio will bring with it 4,100 new jobs -- and $300 million in new revenue to the city.

    * Honda's purchases from its North American suppliers totaled $12.6 billion for the fiscal year ended in March 2003. (The Japanese automaker employs more than 13,000 American workers in Ohio alone).

    * Nissan is in the midst of its biggest North American expansion in two decades -- with a huge new forging facility coming on line soon in Tennessee (which will create several hundred new jobs for local residents). The new $250 million plant will be Nissan's fifth major expansion in Tennessee.

    Just a few examples. The point being, the mainline Japanese brands are building manufacturing facilities and creating jobs for U.S. workers -- while our domestic brands are closing plants and laying off workers. It's true GM and Ford still employ more workers overall, but the trend is that "imports" are the ones investing in America (and American workers), while the "domestics" are heading south of the border (or farther afield than that), setting up shop in foreign lands, employing foreign workers -- each one representing another American who had to look elsewhere for a paycheck.

    What does "Buy American" mean in the face of these realities? The fact of the matter is that by purchasing a Honda Built in Ohio or a Toyota built in Indiana, one is by definition "buying American" -- at least, in terms of buying a vehicle built by Americans in America. Conversely, how is "buying American" to purchase a Ford or GM vehicle assembled in Mexico by Mexican workers? Or a Buick built in China? Is the critical thing the nameplate? Or the workers involved in producing the actual vehicle?

    And it should also be kept in mind that "American" car companies are in fact multinational corporations -- with operations all across the globe. They are only "American" in a historical sense -- and in terms of the physical location of their corporate headquarters. The same, of course, is true of the Japanese automakers. But again, they are at least devoting considerable resources to new plants and other facilities within the United States while GM and Ford are working overtime to shed capacity, close plants and lay off workers. Like it or lump it, that's the reality -- and one might argue that it's more sensible to show loyalty to companies which have shown loyalty to this country and its workers, irrespective of where they happen to have their corporate headquarters.

    Moreover, consider these facts:

    * GM entered into a deal with Honda to buy Honda engines for use in "GM" vehicles. Is a car defined as American because of the badge on its fender -- or the source of the engine under its hood? GM was going to build a Subaru-based Saab until the deal fell apart.

    * Ford's hybrid vehicle technology is Toyota-sourced; when you buy a "Ford" hybrid such as the Escape, you are in fact being powered by Toyota. And of course Ford is partnered with Japanese automaker Mazda -- and several "Ford" models are either rebadged Mazdas or based heavily on Mazda models. The new Fusion, for example, rides on a modified Mazda chassis. And the Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape are fundamentally identical vehicles.

    Which one's the "American" car? How do you tell? And which one helps support American workers (as opposed to corporate CEOs)?

    It's all food for thought -- or at least, for intelligent deliberation on this subject. Because "Buy American" is really nothing more than an outdated slogan at this point -- a rallying cry as hollow and irrelevant to modern realities as the Rebel Yell or "Gott mitt uns."


  2. #2

    Re: When "American" cars aren't... .

    I got to look again, but I think that my G/M, except for some small parts, is almost all made in the US.

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