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Friday, June 25, 2010

Camry Most "American" Car?

According to the Detroit News (here), finds that the Camry is the "most American car", based on domestic parts content and popularity.

I suppose it is fair, and congratulations to Toyota for supporting the U.S. economy as much as the Camry does.


If you follow the flow of engineering and the flow of money, the picture is a little different.  The Camry has quite a bit of its engineering done in Japan, which means that Japanese engineers are doing the work, not U.S. engineers.  Also, the profits from the sale of the Camry flow back through Japan, though the shareholders of Toyota are global.

Consider instead a car designed in the U.S. and built over the border, such as the Ford Fusion, or the Chrysler 300.  Yes, it is being bolted together by Mexicans (or Canadians, or even Mexican-Canadians), from parts that flow from all over.  However, U.S. engineers and technicians worked on the product, and and the profits flow mostly to U.S. shareholders (and the .gov in the case of Chrysler and GM).

It isn't black and white, and if you buy a Camry, to my thinking it is much better than buying a car designed and built overseas.  But if you want to support American engineering and American shareholders, you can do better than Camry.


Jason Lancaster said...

You make great points about Toyota's engineering work being done overseas, but I disagree with the notion that it's better to buy a Mexican-made Fusion than a U.S. built Camry.

First of all, domestic content should count for something. If half the cost of a vehicle is parts, and the rest is mostly labor, where the parts are sourced and who does the labor account for 90% of the dollars. (Note - I'm using back of the envelope numbers. If my percentages are off, please tell me.)

My point: What's better for America? Sending 10% of the price of a new car to Japan to support engineers in Toyoda city, or sending 40% of a the price of a new car to Mexico?

Bigger picture: Foreign oil is the biggest single drain on U.S. resources. If we could find a way to wean ourselves off Venezuelan crude (by raising gas taxes for starters, just as you suggest) we would keep a lot of money in our own country. As important as it is to buy "domestic" vs. "import", it's a small issue compared to all the money we send away to buy oil.

Lifted trucks said...

Hey I am happy to hear about Toyota Camry being termed as an American Car. Nice info provided. Liked it....