This morning's Wall Street Journal featured an article about what constitutes an 'American made' car. You see, it seems that the new Ford Mustang is made of of 65% american manufactured parts, while the Toyota Sienna is made of 90% American made parts. So, which is the icon of Americanism?
I get my share of grief for driving a Toyota Camry -- especially given that several of our friends parents and/or grandparents rely for a living on the solvency of the GM pension fund. But as GM and Ford increasingly buy parts from overseas, and even have their cars assembled abroad, the distinction between American and Foreign-made gets increasingly fuzzy. I'm not sure you can even get a Sienna minivan in Japan. Not only are they manufactured in the US, but the whole concept of a 7-8 seat van with more cup-holders than the mind can grasp is very alien to just about any market other than the US. The Sienna is, in its way, as much a product of American driving tastes as the lumbering Ford Excursion.
At the end of the day, I shop pretty strictly by car quality rather than assembly location. I think one of the reasons the Big Three auto makers got so far behind the curve in the 80s is that there were way too many people willing to buy American regardless of design or quality. As more and more Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans and even BMWs (none of those X5 and X3 BMW SUVs have ever seen Bohemia) roll off assembly lines in the American South and Southwest, it seems to me that Ford and GM need to come up with a better explanation of why people should buy their products than that buying a foreign brand will put American workers out of a job.
Fortnightly Book, March 29
1 hour ago