2011 Honda Fit Sport
A few weeks ago, we wondered whether U.S. consumers found it more important to buy a car that's "made in America" or one that's made by an American company.
The post generated some interesting discussion, with several readers pointing out -- quite rightly -- that in this day and age, it's become increasingly hard to find a vehicle that's truly "made in America" (meaning, "made in the U.S."). And while many consumers are likely to stick with Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors in the future, we have a hunch that others who were once Detroit loyalists may become a little more...flexible.
Those people will be prime targets for Honda. According to Wards Auto, 89% of the vehicles Honda currently sells in the U.S. are made in North America (including Canada and Mexico). But by 2015, that figure will rise to 96%.
That number is on par with Detroit's Big Three, which build about 97% of their U.S. cars in North America. And it's far ahead of other automakers, which generally manufacture 60% of their U.S. models in our region.
Why the shift?
One of Honda's biggest motivations for moving its activities here is the strong yen, which makes manufacturing in Japan an expensive proposition. The automaker has been investing heavily in upgrades to plants in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with plans to boost production dramatically in coming years and to shift some models away from Japan entirely.
The last vehicle to jump the Pacific should be the highly popular Fit, which is expected to begin production at Honda's new factory in Mexico by 2014. However, depending on the financial markets, it's possible that Honda could move other vehicles to North America entirely -- vehicles like the Honda Civic and the Honda CR-V, which are now built both here and in Japan. If that happens, it could shift the number of North American-built Hondas sold in the U.S. to almost 100%.
Detroit loyalists: would this change your opinion of Honda? Or will you still swear allegiance to the Big Three? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.
[h/t John Voelcker]