Before we dive into this, I want to say that I get really bored with a bunch of numbers. I’d much rather have things laid out in plain terms. Unfortunately, I decided to bore myself and go with numbers this time—I’ll try not to do it too often. On the other hand, the numbers do speak rather loudly. I wanted to do this just this one time so people don't think I'm simply making things up. All the references I used are listed at the bottom. Please feel free to check them out. If I'm wrong on anything, post it in the comments section--I'm not afraid of being corrected.
The first thing we have to do is figure out what constitutes an American company. Is the number of American workers? How about where the company is headquartered? And finally, where is the actual car made? Let’s start with the first two issues and see where it takes us…
When most people think of an American automotive company, Ford, GM, and Chrysler probably come to mind.
Then, we’ve got Toyota and Honda. There’s quite a bit of people who claim their car or truck might be a Toyota or a Honda, but it’s more American made than Ford. We definitely need to cover this!
First, let’s look at the number of American workers for each of these “Big 5”auto makers.
Ford – 46,865 U.S. employees as of April, 2014 (1)
GM – 92,000 U.S. employees as of December, 2013 (2)
Chrysler (FIAT) – 40,000 U.S. employees January, 2014 (3)
Toyota – 29,569 U.S. employees as of 2013 (4)
Honda – 29,400 U.S. employees as of April, 2014 (5)
Now, let’s look at where each are headquartered.
Ford – Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.A
GM – Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Chrysler – Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.A.
Toyota – Toyota, Aichi, Japan
Honda – Minato, Tokyo, Japan
I’ve got to say; GM and Ford are looking pretty good. Chrysler, although headquartered in the U.S.A., has been increasingly owned by FIAT since 2011. It’s now safe to say that the “Big 3” American auto makers are really just the“Big 2,” but the fact that 40,000 Americans are employed by Chrysler (FIAT) is worth heavy consideration.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy though. If you want to know where the car you’re driving was made, you’ll need to look at the individual vehicles. I recommend checking out: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Part+583+American+Automobile+Labeling+Act+(AALA)+Reports.
This site will provide a list of vehicles with a percentage of content made in USA/Canada along with where your vehicle was assembled and where the engine and transmission was sourced. GM, Chrysler, and Ford top the list. My truck, a GMC Sierra, only rates a 40% content from US/Can with 51% coming from Mexico. The engine and transmission are from the US though, so that’s something.
I also want to take a minute to point out a little bit about vehicle recalls since GM and Ford often get heavy criticism for their recalls.
So far this year, there have been 13 million cars recalled (there were only 22 million in all of 2013). We’re on a roll already. Who tops this list? Toyota with 6.4 million recalls. Followed by GM (4.8 million), Nissan (1 million), Honda (900,000), and Ford (434,000). (6)
In 2013, Toyota held the most recalls again (5.3 million) followed by Chrysler (4.7 million), Honda (2.8 million), Hyundai (2.2 million), and Ford (1.2 million). GM was 9th with 757,677 recalls. (7)
In 2012, It might not surprise you by now that Toyota tops the list again (5.3 million) followed by Honda (3.3 million), GM (1.5 million), and Ford (1.4 million). (8)
Additionally, I found a great article from Forbes.com that compiled information from iSeeCars.com showing the recalls in the U.S. relative to sales since 1985. For those interested, Toyota recalled 38.6 million cars of the 48.1
million sold (0.80 recall rate). Honda recalled 31.1 million of 32.9 million (0.94 recall rate). Ford recalled 97.0 million of 104.7 million (0.94 recall rate). GM recalled 99.3 million of 153.2 million (0.65 recall rate). (9)
Finally, I want to talk a little bit about the GM bailout. There’s a lot of criticism about the 50 BILLION dollars (yes, that’s in caps on purpose… it’s a lot of money) that GM took from the Bush and Obama administrations. We, as taxpayers, have gotten back about 39 billion dollars, but we lost more than 10 BILLION dollars.
Our nation’s leaders said that if they didn’t do it, GM would fail and pull the entire United States into a recession. If you ask me, having unemployment around 10%, housing prices collapsing, food and oil prices skyrocketing, and the DJIA hit a 12-year low, all during the same timeframe (2008-2009) as the bailouts, sounds a lot like a recession happened anyway.
Hey, isn’t that when I started writing my book? Coincidence, I think not.
Listen, I like GM. I’ve had a few of their products over the years and can’t complain about any of them. But, and this is a big but, if they can’t make carve their own path, I would have let them fail. I won’t buy a new GM product for awhile because I agree with the “Government Motors” nickname they’ve acquired. I will continue to buy used vehicles (American made, of course).
I will leave you with one question… Do you think it’s any coincidence that immediately following the government’s selloff of GM stock, the massive recall that was “ignored for years” was initiated?
Goodnight and God Bless!
(10) Here’s another good website, just for fun: