Cars.com Releases the 2014 American-Made Index

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Cars.com released its 2014 American-Made Index, which rates cars built and bought in the U.S. This year's group includes models from five automakers. They're built in seven states, from Texas to Ohio.

Cars.com 2014 American-Made Index

The AMI uses two data points that consumers can find on all new cars: final assembly point and the vehicle's domestic-parts content; these can be found either together on one label, or on separate labels, on all new light-duty cars and trucks. The labels show the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts. (By congressional mandate, the American Automobile Labeling Act lumps Canada into the same "domestic" pool.) In addition to showing where the car was built, the label will tell you where its engine and transmission came from.

This marks the ninth year for the AMI. The top two finishers had a clear lead, but the last four finishers are newcomers, and this year saw the list hit a record low for eligible models. Read our related story to see why the pickings this year were so slim.

Cars.com illustration by Paul Dolan

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 American-Made Index: Fewest Cars Ever

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A steady decline in cars with high domestic-parts content had us wondering when the American-Made Index would have fewer than 10 cars. This year, that nearly happened. For the 2014 model year, there are no "honorable mentions"; all 10 that were eligible made the list. In fact, just 13 models built in the U.S. reported domestic-parts content of 75 percent or higher, but three of those are going to be discontinued, meaning they're disqualified from our list. Three model years ago, 30 cars met the 75 percent threshold.

Cars.com Releases the 2014 American-Made Index

It's a clear trend, and it comes despite increased domestic car production. In 2013, automakers built 11.14 million vehicles in the U.S., including passenger cars and medium/heavy-duty trucks, according to Automotive News. That's up 7 percent over 2012, and it came as production stayed roughly flat in Mexico and fell 3.7 percent in Canada. Through the first five months of 2014, production increased 4.4 percent in the U.S.

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (4)

Honda Is a Net Exporter, Sort Of

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You might have heard that Honda is a net U.S. exporter, sending more U.S.-built cars to international markets than it imports into the U.S. for sale. But don't take the news at face value.

Here's why. The automaker, which includes the Honda brand and its Acura luxury division, declared itself a "net exporter in the U.S. for the first time" on Tuesday by virtue of shipping more U.S.-built cars to international markets than it imported to the U.S. in 2013. 

But it only counts imports from Japan — which accounted for 88,537 cars in 2013 — in that tally. Those Japan imports fell below the 108,705 cars that Honda shipped out of the U.S. in 2013, excluding cars sent to Canada. The infographic above is provided by Honda and the line "Honda exported more cars from the U.S. than it imported from Japan" is correct.

American-Made Index: Which Automakers Affect the Most U.S. Workers?

That means Honda exported more cars from the U.S., excluding exports to Canada, than it imported from Japan alone in 2013. Did it export more cars from the U.S. than it imported from all countries? Honda won't say, but it's unlikely.

By Kelsey Mays | January 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

Auto Exports' Rise Continues

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We've known that U.S. automotive exports are increasing, but now the Detroit News reports the country could export more cars than ever before this year. Auto exports could reach 2 million cars and trucks in 2013, up from around 1.8 million in 2012. Most will come from GM, Ford and Chrysler, the News reported.

American-Made Index: The Role of Exports

That makes sense. Matt Blunt, president of the Detroit Three-backed American Automotive Policy Council, told us in June that AAPC's member companies exported some 18 percent of all the cars they built in the U.S. in 2012. American auto exports from all automakers, meanwhile, increased 82 percent between 2009 and 2012, according to the International Trade Commission.

By Kelsey Mays | December 26, 2013 | Comments (2)

American-Made Index: The Role of Exports

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The American-Made Index uses sales as a stand-in for the number of assembly-line employees and suppliers. Those assembly-line workers are the largest single chunk of direct employment by an automaker in the U.S. The Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research says roughly two-thirds of the Detroit Three's direct employees are paid hourly: namely assembly-line workers.

Sales are just one way to reflect auto-line employment, however.

Cars.com's 2013 American-Made Index

Exports throw a wrench into the spokes. They used to be negligible, as high labor costs traditionally discouraged building extra cars here. But recent trends, including increasing new-car sales, ebbing labor costs, relative economic stability and volatile international currency issues have helped to boost U.S. manufacturing. Light-vehicle auto production is up 6.8% year-over-year through the end of May 2013, according to Automotive News, and exports account for a growing slice of the pie. International Trade Commission data show exports increased 82% between 2009 and 2012; they're up another 3.2% in the first quarter of 2013.

By Kelsey Mays | June 24, 2013 | Comments (14)

American-Made Index: Fewer Cars Overall?

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Cars.com's American-Made Index measures cars built and bought here, with high domestic-parts content as measured by Congress' 1992 American Automobile Labeling Act. But with each passing year, the number of qualifying models dwindles, and at some point soon, the AMI may have fewer than 10 cars left in it.

Cars.com's 2013 American-Made Index

For the 2013 model year, just 14 models had domestic-parts content above 75%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the 2012 model year, 20 cars met that threshold; in 2011, it was 30. Past AMI regulars like the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu have tumbled below 75% domestic content; the Ford Explorer, which ranked in fourth place for the 2011 American-Made Index, has just 50% domestic content today.

Kristin Dziczek, who directs the Labor and Industry Group at Michigan's Center for Automotive Research, calls it the "global car" effect, where shoppers from Denver to Dubai see the same model in their showrooms.

By Kelsey Mays | June 24, 2013 | Comments (1)

Cars.com Releases the 2013 American-Made Index

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It's time for Cars.com’s latest American-Made Index, which enters its eighth year for 2013. As before, the AMI looks at the assembly location for top-selling U.S. models. It also considers U.S.-assembled sales and the percentage of domestic parts in each car, with a minimum requirement of 75% content as documented by Congress' American Automobile Labeling Act.

Cars.com 2013 American-Made Index

You can find domestic-parts content labels on all new light-duty cars and trucks that show the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts. (By Congressional mandate, the AALA lumps Canada into the same "domestic" pool.) Each label also shows where the particular car was built, as well as where the engine and transmission came from.

Check out this year’s top 10 models, which hail from states like Kentucky, Michigan and Texas. The top two finishers stood further apart than in 2012’s tight standings, but there is a new No. 1 this year.

Full 2013 AMI Coverage
2013 American-Made Index: Fewer Cars Overall?
2013 American-Made Index: The Role of Exports
Cars.com 2013 American-Made Index

By Kelsey Mays | June 24, 2013 | Comments (1)

'American-Made' Quality Still Seen as Inferior

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The Detroit Three build plenty of high-quality cars. Buick, Ford and Lincoln scored above average in the latest Vehicle Dependability Study from J.D. Power and Associates, and Cadillac ranked third in the study's rankings. J.D. Power's three-month Initial Quality Study had Cadillac, GMC, Chrysler's Ram trucks and Chevrolet ranking above average.

But a Harris Interactive poll released Wednesday said car owners still view American-made cars as inferior. Of 2,634 U.S. adults polled 35% said they find the quality of such vehicles inferior to those of imported cars, outpacing the 24% who said they find import brands inferior to domestics. However, a larger chunk (42%) deemed quality about the same.

Recent studies don't help Detroit's case. Chrysler's brands ranked near the bottom of J.D. Power's three-year dependability study, though the automaker's sales chief told us last February that new owner Fiat brings a "maniacal" quality focus. Indeed, Chrysler's Jeep division ranked above average in Consumer Reports' latest 28-brand reliability survey, and it was the only Detroit brand to do that.

By Kelsey Mays | August 9, 2012 | Comments (26)

American-Made Index: Odds and Ends

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Compiling the American-Made Index always brings its share of interesting tidbits, and this year had no shortage. Here are a few:

  • For 2012, the highest domestic parts content for a single vehicle comes in the Toyota Matrix hatchback. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Matrix hits 95% DPC — a percentage not seen since 2007. But here's the catch: The Matrix isn't even built in the U.S. Toyota assembles the car in Canada. For a variety of reasons, the American Automobile Labeling Act includes Canada as a "domestic" supply source. (That's one reason the AMI uses assembly location as a key determining factor.) Matt Blunt, president of the Detroit Three’s lobbying group, the American Automotive Policy Council, explains: "Canada was included because at the time that AALA went into effect, it would've been very difficult to disentangle what's one of the most integrated bi-national production operations in the world."
By Kelsey Mays | July 2, 2012 | Comments (5)

American-Made Index: Which Automakers Affect the Most U.S. Workers?

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Cars.com's American-Made Index gauges how American a car is on a model-by-model basis, but there are lots of other ways to determine just how American a car is. If you look at raw employment figures, Detroit automakers have a larger footprint in the U.S. than do their foreign-owned competitors — but competition is closing the gap.

By Kelsey Mays | July 2, 2012 | Comments (18)

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