June 29, 2015 - by
Ford, Chrysler, Chevrolet, and General Motors: consumers know these names as the forefront of American automobile engineering. They have been known as the care that are “made in America” which always tugged at the heartstrings of nationalistic pride. There’s something to be said about buying a product that was conceived and built right at home and this was never more apparent than when it comes to cars: it’s a tradition that goes as far back as when Henry Ford unveiled the Model T (the first mass produces car available to the public) all the way down to muscle car culture. However, in a strange turn of events it seems that the car that best qualifies as “American made” may be the Toyota Camry and not your typical GM car.
Recently, Cars.com released its 10th American Made Index (AMI) which is a data aggregate of the vehicles that qualify as the “most American” and this is based on where parts are manufactured, where the vehicle is built, and what percentage of the vehicles’ sales are U.S.-based. According to the data they’ve compiled, cars with at least 75 percent domestic content are a dying breed with the list having less than 10 cars on the list.
It should be noted that this is not a case of automakers slowing U.S. production. In fact, besides heavy-duty trucks and commercial vehicles, automakers are responsible for assembling 100s of models in the US for the 2015 model year, from Chevrolet sedans to BMW SUVs. These cars combine for the vast majority of new-car sales, so U.S. production remains on the rise. What is on the percent of overall domestic-parts content. According to the data from Cars.com, 29 cars qualified for the America-Made Index five years ago as opposed to the 7 we have now.
This year’s AMI was also quite surprising. Who would have thought that the Toyota Camry would be the most American vehicle on sale in the U.S. and that Ford would not even qualify anymore? When you look at how much the data has changed you can see a steady decline of US automakers qualifying as “American made” and more imports like Honda or Toyota taking their place. If anything this could be seen as a sign of globalization.
The real question on industry experts’ minds really boils down to how many consumers actually care and/or know about their vehicle’s geographical roots? According to the data, approximately 28% of consumers prefer to by American. However, it might seem unlikely that those buyers are also aware that cars like the Toyota Camry or the Honda Odyssey are much more American than the Ford Fusion or Chrysler Town & Country. Either way, this presents car companies with plenty of potential marketing ammunition. As of now, while companies like Ford can’t cling to the image of “American made,” companies like Toyota exist as an example of not just the globalization of the brand but also the Americanization.
The full list of Cars.com 2015 American Made Index winners:
- Toyota Camry
- Toyota Sienna
- Chevrolet Traverse
- Honda Odyssey
- GMC Acadia
- Buick Enclave
- Chevrolet Corvette