Here’s a good bar-bet question: What is the most American-made vehicle in the United States? The Ford F-150? The Chevrolet Corvette? Close, but no cigar.
Would you believe the Toyota Camry? According to the 2015 American-Made Index compiled by Cars.com, Toyota’s best-selling sedan tops the list. Among other factors, the index is based on where the vehicle is built, where its parts are made, and what percentage of its sales is U.S.-based. Data for the index comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, industry publication Automotive News, and the automakers themselves.
To make the list, a vehicle must contain at least 75 percent domestic parts. The Camry (made in Georgetown, KY, and Lafayette, IN) is No. 1, followed by the Toyota Sienna (Princeton, IN), Honda Odyssey (Lincoln, AL), Chevrolet Traverse (Lansing, MI), GMC Acadia (Lansing, MI), Buick Enclave (Lansing, MI), and the Corvette (Bowling Green, KY).
Ironically, GM’s Michigan-built SUVs returned to the index after a two-year hiatus, while the aforementioned F-150, which had been on the list since its inception, came off the index this year. Although it remains the best-selling vehicle in the country, the F-150 fell below the index’s threshold of 75 percent domestic content with its 2015 model-year redesign. There hasn’t been a Chrysler nameplate on the index since 2012.
For the first time in its nine-year history, the index has fewer than 10 cars. That’s remarkable, considering that some 101 models are currently being produced here, and that doesn’t include heavy-duty trucks and commercial vehicles. Five years ago, 29 vehicles qualified for the index.
If the threshold is lowered to 60 percent, then 57 vehicles would make the list, and the Detroit 3 produce 37 of them. And, GM, Ford and FCA each have more than twice as many North American employees as Toyota.
In highlighting these numbers, my wish is not to commend or disparage any particular make, model or OEM. Rather, I want only to point out that globalization is here to stay, foreign-direct investment is producing thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs each year, and labels don’t serve anyone.
Did you know that the United States exported a record-high 2.1 million vehicles in 2014? Did you know that in just the past few months, French, German, Japanese and Chinese automotive suppliers have announced plans to build U.S. assembly plants? Collectively, these four factories represent an investment of nearly $200 million and the potential for more than 1,000 jobs.
Over the next several months, the Detroit Three will be negotiating new contracts with the UAW, and our elected leaders will be evaluating international trade deals. All involved should do everything they can to ensure “U.S.” manufacturing keeps rolling.