Toyota Camry named the most ‘American-Made’ car

30 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Camry Most American Vehicle List: Toyota Camry Tops Most American Vehicle List.

For the last nine years, Cars.com has crafted the American-Made Index, which is a list of cars that takes into account three factors: the percentage of the vehicle’s parts that were built in the United States or Canada, the final assembly point, and overall vehicle sales. On the day after America celebrates 239 years of independence, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) will hold a race at Daytona International Speedway.

The phrase “made in America” has always pulled at the hearts and wallets of loyal, red-blooded consumers, and never more so than in the automotive space.When thinking about the US auto market, the second largest in the world today, most of us will have a preconceived idea that it’s all about huge SUVs and pickup trucks.In its 2015 “American-Made Index,” cars.com finds that the Toyota Camry built in Kentucky and Indiana has the most American content among vehicles produced in U.S. — even though Detroit automakers still account for the majority of 101 models assembled across the country with 60 percent or more in domestic parts.

Contestants will drive vehicles that are styled to resemble the Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Camry, and after racing ‘em on Sunday, these car companies hope that NASCAR fans will buy ‘em on Monday. That’s mostly because full-size pickup trucks will only be seen on a regular basis on the North American continent, making up one of the symbols for Uncle Sam’s territory.

Production continues to expand in U.S. plants operated by the Detroit Three and their foreign rivals, a marker of the robust American market now well into its sixth consecutive year of expansion. But if you want to buy a truly “American-made” vehicle — and a Cars.com survey says more Americans do — you might be better off purchasing a Toyota Camry.

If anything, the opposite is true: Excluding heavy-duty trucks and commercial vehicles, automakers assemble 101 models in this country for the 2015 model year, from Chevrolet sedans to BMW SUVs. It turns out the Japanese carmaker’s flagship sedan actually has more domestic content in it than the F0rd pickup and in fact, ranks first in Cars.com’s annual American-Made Index. Even as global automakers generally continue to produce where they sell, chiefly to control distribution costs and reap the political benefits of supporting regional economies, the suppliers they are tapping are far more likely to produce components in less expensive developing markets around the world. The Ford F-150, which topped the list last year, didn’t even make the cut this year because its domestic parts content fell below the 75 percent threshold in 2015 to meet the Cars.com requirement. Models with domestic-parts content ratings below 75 percent are disqualified, as well as models built exclusively outside the U.S. or models soon to be discontinued without a U.S.-built successor.”

What is shrinking is the percent of overall domestic-parts content.” Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of Cars.com, told Fortune, “In 2011 23% of purchasing consumers would only buy American, a percentage that has jumped to 28% in 2015.” Of course, the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merger has complicated this approach, now that the company that builds the Dodge Charger Hellcat is headquartered in London, England. The study points to a trend of fewer and fewer cars with more than 75 percent domestic content, with just seven models qualifying this year, according to Cars.com, down from 29 just five years ago. The result is a reduction in American-made components in many of the cars and trucks assembled in the States for sale to Americans, Canadians and a steadily growing number of export markets. Today, it’s harder than ever to determine what makes an American car “American.” If you look at where all of the pieces come from and where they’re all being put together, the Camry is arguably the car that screams “apple pie” and “baseball” the loudest these days.

The challenge, at least for those who care, is navigating the maze of connections behind the logo on the hood and deciding whether any of it matters — and to whom. More, the confusing web of parts and final assembly locations, and who builds what where, complicates Buy American impulses grounded in both economic nationalism and the increasingly fashionable “buy local” movement. Probably not, but the car companies who make the tally find such accolades heavy-duty marketing fodder. “It reinforces the Americanization story of Toyota,” says Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S. “We operate ten plants in the U.S., build more than 2 million vehicles here, and 71% of our sales [here in America] are vehicles built in North America.”

Namely: is buying a Kentucky-built Camry more or less patriotic, more or less supportive of the U.S. economy and American workers, than buying a South Korean-built Buick Encore or Chevrolet Trax, the two Detroit models with less than 5 percent U.S. content? For as long as I can remember, the “Buy Big Three” standard hinged on where vehicles were built, whether union members assembled them and which country’s automaker claimed the corporate profit, if any. Once the numbers are crunched, Kogod gives each make and model a total domestic content (TDC) value, and lists the vehicles from highest to lowest based on that value.

Ford appears on the list in the #3 slot, its F-Series, Expedition, Explorer, and Taurus making the grade at 82.5% TDC, along with the Cadillac ATS Sedan, Cadillac CTS, and Chevrolet Equinox. Chrysler Corp.’s odyssey from German ownership, to American, and then to an Italian rescue engineered by Fiat SpA’s Sergio Marchionne challenged a key component of that standard. Here’s another fun fact: A Ford Fusion Energi, the plug-in hybrid version of the popular family sedan, is less “American” than a Nissan Leaf, at 34% TDC compared to 40% TDC.

America is part of the global economy and, as recent economic slumps helped prove, the world is a much smaller place when it comes to financial ups and downs. But buying a vehicle with a high percentage of TDC does help keep Americans employed and the economy healthy, even if it doesn’t really matter where the profits ultimately flow. Ford Motor Co.’s powerhouse F-150 pickup, last year’s index leader, slipped below the 75-percent mark with its redesign for the current model year, the index found. The Kogod Made in America Auto Index has made it easy to determine what’s actually the most beneficial purchase for keeping the American economy chugging right along, and what’s not. Granted, you could simply continue defining American vehicles using outdated and inaccurate methods, exhorting that the GMC Sierra is an American truck (at 72.5% TDC) while the Toyota Tundra is an import (at 76% TDC).

Increasingly, the answer lay not in the brand or the site of its corporate headquarters, but in a plant location, its employees and a network of suppliers stretching across the globe.

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