Thursday, July 03, 2008

What's Foreign?

Domestic cars vs. Foreign cars. Easy to define right? GM, Ford and Chrysler are domestic. Toyota, Honda, VW and company are foreign, right?

Here in Windsor there are a lot of "Out of a job yet, keep buying foreign" bumper stickers. Not surprising, right? We have (for now) the Big 3 automakers and related companies employing the majority of people in the area. But, to me anyway, the truth behind these stickers has absolutely nothing to do with buying foreign.

I drive a Honda Odyssey. Japanese right? Built in Alabama, the majority of it's parts are manufactured in North America. But maybe for our second car I should support our local economy and buy something domestic. Like a Chrysler Crossfire. Oh wait, that's built in Germany. How about the new award winning Saturn Astra? Oh, it's an entirely European car that's built in Belgium. And I will never buy another Saturn, but that's another very long post of its own. I'd love to own the new VW Routan minivan, but that's obviously a German car, right? Oh, it's assembled HERE right on the same assembly line as the Chrysler Caravan, 3 km from my house!

So somebody tell me what is domestic and what is foreign. recently put out an American made vehicles index, based on the percentage of parts and if assembly is done in the US. First place, Ford F-150 pickup. But in the top ten (5th, 6th & 7th) are the Toyota Tundra pickup, Toyota Sienna minivan and my very own Honda Odyssey. Ahead of iconic American vehicles like the Ford Mustang and GM Corvette!

Living in Windsor you see a lot of people driving the Chrysler minivan. No surprise. It's built here, everyone and their brother can get super cheap employee pricing (except this family...). But even that "locally" produced vehicle doesn't match it's domestic content to the Sienna or the Odyssey.

It seems pretty clear to me that this 'don't buy foreign' concept is really related to who builds the cars, not where they are built. The Big 3 are unionized (and practically putting themselves out of business because of that). The two biggest 'foreign' car makers (Toyota and Honda) are not unionized and are make an enormous impact on the market that used to be dominated by the Big 3. Why do you think the Big 3 are getting so defensive?

"Out of a job yet, keep buying foreign" should really read, "Keep buying non-union."


Lynn said...

Very interesting post. I didn't know this info, and I'm sure a lot of others don't either.

I guess people need to do a little more research before they plaster their cars with bumper stickers!

Sue Titcombe said...

We're getting a second car???