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With Cars, Trying to “Buy American” Isn’t as Easy as it Seems

Jeep the “Most American” brand – with an asterisk.

by on Jul.05, 2013

Jeep is named the "Most Patriotic Brand" by a new survey - but is it an "All-American" vehicle?

In the wake of the twin, 1970s energy shocks, when high-mileage automotive imports suddenly began grabbing market share, Detroit carmakers tried to fight back by urging motorists to “Buy American.” But these days, even though there’s growing support for U.S. manufacturing, it can be a challenge to figure out what really is an American car.

If you’re looking for products actually assembled in the U.S., for example, you might prefer an Ohio-made Honda Civic to a Ford Fiesta assembled in Mexico. Then again, a new survey says Americans see Jeep as the absolute pinnacle of patriotic brands – automotive and otherwise.

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The research, by the New York-based firm Brand Keys, cites Jeep as the “most patriotic brand,” beating out names like Hershey’s, Levis, Harley-Davidson  and Coca Cola.  Jeep of course earned its honors by providing reliable transportation for American GI’s in World War II.


Where Do the Most “Patriotic” Car Buyers Live?

Motorists in Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland most likely to buy Big Three, while LA loves imports.

by on Jul.06, 2011

Midwest buyers remain the most loyal to the traditional domestic auto brands.

“Buy American?” it’s not always easy to figure out what an American car is, these days, considering your Chevy may come from Korea, while your Kia may have been built in West Point, Georgia.  But if you’re looking for the communities where shoppers are most likely to purchase one of the Big Three brands, Midwest motorists remain the most loyal to domestic automakers, while those in California and other West Coast communities are overwhelmingly import oriented.

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The gap can be significant: in major Midwest markets, Detroit’s Big Three brands routinely capture more than two-thirds of new car sales, while three in four shoppers on the Left Coast turn to either Asian or European marques.

But domestic industry officials insist they’re seeing a shift in momentum, especially as they launch new small, fuel-efficient models that are beginning to gain traction even in import-centric California.


Who Builds the Most “American” Cars?

A hint: Chrysler lags the list.

by on Jul.05, 2011

The 200 is the only American-made model bearing the Chrysler brand badge.

There’s been a lot of talk about the comeback of the “American” auto industry in recent months.  And if you’re specifically discussing Detroit’s so-called Big Three, there are clearly signs they are on the mends following the near collapse of the Motor City in 2009.

But what really defines an American car company?  These days, you’re likely to see TV commercials from a variety of brands all claiming that patriotic designation.  BMW, Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru and Volkswagen are among the many foreign-owned makers who have emphasized their U.S. plant in a series of spots aired in recent months.

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Clearly, the definition has blurred now that there are more than a score of “transplant” assembly plants operating on U.S. shores.  So, that got the folks at Consumer Reports looking more closely at the list of products you’ll find at nearby showrooms to see which models actually roll off American assembly lines.

The non-profit publication counted 101 mainstream vehicles that qualified – though the number expanded significantly if you counted all the various trim packages. And when it came to which makers led and lagged there were some surprises.


It’s Become Difficult to Tell What Is an American Vehicle

Globalization has meant you can no longer just look at the logo on the grille.

by on Oct.06, 2010

Buying American is a emotionally charged issue in a state that is very dependent on the auto industry.

Call it the automotive equivalent of playing the race card.

Talk to potential car buyers – especially in a crowd such in the lunchroom at the office – and the subject of buying American often comes up. It can be a touchy subject, especially in Michigan, where the state’s battered economy depends so heavily on the domestic auto industry.

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Just in case you don’t think this is a contentious issue, talk to the guy with the bumper sticker that says “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign!”

But with the globalization of the economy so prevalent, it’s hard to tell an American car from a foreign one anymore. Some would say that you simply look at the grille. If there’s a logo from a brand owned by GM, Ford or Chrysler then it’s American. But it’s really not that simple.

“Buy American” Web Site Rates Cars

America’s Got Product rates automobiles, will add others.

by on Sep.02, 2010

It's all about jobs and profits in the U.S.

What’s claimed to be a unique website is now offering consumers a way to quickly learn what products best support the U.S. economy.

Beginning today, a rating system at is used on every automobile available in the United States. Viewers can see where the model was built, whether or not it has a minimum of 50% American parts, or whether or not the company has domestic headquarters.

A four-star rating system is used at AGP that identifies what it claims is the financial footprint that each purchase leaves on the American economy. Starting with a report on the automotive industry, AGP rates the impact of each car model sold – both offshore and domestically produced.

The ratings at first glance appear to have some validity, and will no doubt be controversial, particularly among brands that are acting in a what critics claim is a predatory way to protect jobs in their home countries while selling here. For example, in awarding stars, the site says Audi a rates a zero. Other models from international brands rate mixed reviews.

The U.S. is alone among industrial economies – run by either  democracies or totalitarian governments – in lacking an industrial policy that protects jobs and keeps its balance of trade in check. (more…)

Why Buyers Reject Some Automotive Brands

Styling, price, perceived reliability and health lead the list.

by on Dec.15, 2009


Future of the brand is the fourth most cited reason for avoiding a particular model.

Nearly one in five new-vehicle buyers who avoid a particular vehicle model cite their concern over the future of the brand as a reason for avoidance, according to the latest J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Avoider Study released today.

The study has negative implications for General Motors Company and Chrysler Group brands as the reorganized companies try to put bankruptcy behind them and promote new cars and light trucks in what remains a gridlocked marketplace.

While the top three avoidance reasons in 2009—styling, price and perceived reliability—remain unchanged from 2008, concern over the future of the brand is the fourth-most-frequently mentioned reason for avoiding a particular model. Included in the study for the first time, this reason was mentioned by 18% of what Power terms avoiders.

The study, now in its seventh year, examines the reasons consumers fail to consider or avoid particular models when shopping for new vehicles.

Among brands that were avoided due to concerns over their future viability, the top five are domestic brands:

  • Chrysler
  • Dodge
  • Hummer
  • Pontiac and Saturn

In the case of the latter two, consumers proved prescient.

At the time of the study this past summer, GM had announced that Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn would not be part of “New GM,” although buyers were being sought for the brands.

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Since then, only Hummer appears to have a chance of surviving, as Pontiac has already built its last car. A deal for the purchase of Saturn by the Penske Automotive group fell apart at the last moment when the Renault Board of Directors rejected a Carlos Ghosn-backed plan to supply Saturn with Korean-built vehicles.


Buy American?

Survey suggests buyers might be ready to re-embrace Detroit.

by on Sep.03, 2009

Better products, like the new Ford Fusion Hybrid - rather than jingoistic slogans - may be why more motorists now say they're ready to "Buy American."

Better products, like the new Ford Fusion Hybrid - rather than jingoistic slogans - may be why more motorists now say they're ready to "Buy American."

It’s become a tired cliché.  “Buy American,” a phrase trotted out by generations of Detroit executives hoping to win back the motorists who’ve increasingly shifted, over the years, to Asian and European imports.

“Buy America,” proclaimed Lee Iacocca, hoping to head off bankruptcy with 1980’s first automotive bailout.  “Buy America,” crowed his successors, one by one, all the way up to the Cash-for-Clunkers program which, it turned out, sold a lot more Japanese sheet metal than Detroit iron.

But could American buyers really be ready to embrace the concept, once again, and turn to Motown for their transportation needs?

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That’s the rather surprising indication of a new survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.  In a first-ever survey of motorist intentions, it found that 81% of new-car buyers said they would be likely or very likely consider a Detroit product, compared with just 47% who said the same thing about an Asian model, and 46% who’d similarly consider a European offering.