% of American Made in GM, Ford?

Does anyone know or have a reference for the percent of American-made car parts found in GM or Ford products (average)?

I don’t think you’ll EVER find that out…it’s very very complicated.

Let’s take a look at a simple item like a Heater/AC control unit. This small part may contain 10-20 smaller parts. Some of those parts may be built right here in the US…while others may be outsourced to Japan or Korea or Mexico or India…you just don’t know. The final assembly of that part may be made in the US, but the individual components of that part could come from anywhere.

And then it gets even trickier…I have a part made in the US using US steel…but it’s built by Japanese robotics.

The phrase “Made in America” is very tough to qualify.

I can tell you that on so-called “foreign” makes of cars, there is a window sticker stating the origin of both the engine and the transmission, as well as the overall percentage of the car’s parts that were made in the US.

Don’t so-called “American” car makers have to post the same sticker on the window? If not, then that is mighty foolish, simply because my so-called foreign car was made in West Lafayette, Indiana. Similarly, many other so-called “foreign” makes are also manufactured in the US. By contrast, MANY GM, Ford, and Chrysler products are made in Mexico or in Canada.

If GM, Ford, and Chrysler do not have to post the origin of the engine and the transmission, as well as the overall percentage of US-made parts, then I think that whatever legislation caused this inequity is rather unfair and misleading to the public.

As pointed out, finding the exact US content of a “US car” is like unscrambling an egg! The Crown Victoria is offically a foreign car by content to escape being lumped in with the domestic Ford products in the CAFE calculations. The Toyota Camry, on the other hand, built in Kentucky is 85 % US made.

Under the North American Auto pact, a Canadian made or Mexican made US car is “domestic” since those countries import as many US cars duty-free as they export to the US.

Japanese companies in the US can afford to have a higher US content than GM, Ford or Chrysler because of their much more competitive labor costs! As the new CAFE standards start biting, Toyota, Nissan and Honda will start making more small cars in the US, while the Detroit 3 will be importing them.

I don’t think you’ll EVER find that out…it’s very very complicated.

On new cars the window sticker states the percentage of domestic parts.

US content is more than just parts and final assembly. I for one, or more correctly I and my wife, make it a point to the best of our knowledge, buy a new car that is designed and engineered in the US, marketed in the US by US marketing people, produced in the US by a US corporation that pays dividends to mostly US stockholders.

We have bought new 1986, 1987, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009 cars under this description and our hearts are pure if our country goes economically further down the drain.

Don’t feel so pious and pure if your car was assembled in the US with some US parts. There is much more to consider than that.

Since so much of the engineering of “US” cars has been transferred overseas (particularly to India),
I submit that many of the newer cars that you assume were “designed and engineered in the US” may not actually meet that criterion.

That Chevy pickup truck, designed by US engineers, may very well have been built across the border in Canada, with a mixture of US and Canadian parts. Other examples are early Chrysler (Dodge, Plymouth) minvans (ONLY Made in Canada), Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, both made in Canada with Canadian made engines; the Ford Edge (only made in Canada), Buick Regal, certain years (only made in Canada) , the last Firebirds and Camaros (only made in Canada), Ford Fusion (only made in Mexico), etc, etc,.

You need to open the hood, or read the fine print in the door post to see where the car was actually made. I trust you did this religously, and REFUSED to buy the early Chrysler minivans.

A good read is Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” a good treament of globilization. Over the last 2 years I have kept track of all our non-food purchases, and 65% of items bought were made in China, most of the rest in the US, Canada, Korea, and Japan. All GE gas stoves and many fridges are made in Mexico, that business is also being globilized.

If you read the Economist, a British business/news magazine, the second last page has all the international trade balances of various developed countries. Many countries, like Holland, Canada, Japan, Germany, Norway, Sweden, all have very strong trade surpluses. The USA has the world’s worst trade DEFICIT. They don’t build cars in Holland, Norway, and a number of other rich countries like Denmark. Those countries live within their means, tax imported fuels and cars heavily, and enjoy a high standard of living. Canada has a massive trade surplus with the US, partly because of oil, gas and other exports, but until recently, also a $30 billion trade surplus in automotive products.

If US industry was more productive and wages were lower, there would be no need for imports. My wife is the proud owner of a number of high quality US made kitchen appliances, such as Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, Whirlpool, Sears, etc.

Key words quoted from Docnick’s post are:

may very well have been
most of the rest etc.
until recently etc.
If US industry etc.

I invite you to be definitive, eh?

Yes, we can be more definitive. GM has 4 plants that build pickup trucks, one in Canada which has a capacity 4 times the Canadian market. Those not made for Canada are exported to the US.

“Most of the rest” comprised, in addition to the countries mentioned, clothes from Sri Lanka, El Savador, India, etc. Also various items from Taiwan, a Timex watch made in the Philippines, toilet bowl made in Colombia, a Fuji camera made in Indonesia, Swiss army knife made in…Switserland, Watch made in Switserland, Steam Iron made in France, mixer made in Germany, deluxe corkscrew made in Italy, hiking boots made in Romania.

Until the automotive meltdown starting in early 2008, Canada had a $30 billion automotive (parts and vehicles) trade surplus with the US. With the recent plant closings (2 Ford, one GM, one Chrylser) by the Detroit 3, the surplus has been reduced, but it is still a surplus. By 2011 after the shakeout and restructuring we will know what the new balance will be.

Being competitive involves having good products, a very flexble and capable workforce, good management, and a government that does not interfere unduly in business.

Those US companies that have strong technology, efficient and flexible manufacturing (ususally non-union) do not need to go offshore, as Mike points out. Motorola, Boeing, most of GE, Whirlpool, and Texas Instruments are good examples of companies that can stay competitive. The Detroit auto business model cannot cut it in its current form.