Is 'Made In America' More Important Than 'Made By U.S. Company'?

July 5, 2012
American flag

American flag

When you're looking for a new ride, which is more important: the company that makes the car or the country where it's made?

Once upon a time, that question would've seemed absurd. Honda is a Japanese company, so its cars are made in Japan, right?

But thanks to increasingly international corporations, that's not so true anymore. Automakers like Honda and Volkswagen build huge numbers of vehicles in the U.S., and Detroit's own Ford makes its popular Fiesta in Mexico. 

With auto bodies, drivetrains, and other components moving freely across borders, it's sometimes hard to say what counts as an "American" car anymore.

Asking Americans

But that's not to say that consumers don't notice. In fact, our friends at AutoTrader recently surveyed shoppers and found that while 41% believe that it's "important to purchase a vehicle built in the U.S. by U.S. workers", only 28% prioritize buying cars from U.S. automakers, regardless of where those cars were made.

When asked about such feelings, 78% of the "made in America" fans felt that American-made vehicles help protect American jobs. Another 74% said that buying American-made products supports the U.S. economy, and 62% said that doing so "keeps American dollars at home".

But perhaps most interesting of all is this little tidbit: "a vehicle that is made in the U.S. by a foreign automaker is more likely to be seen as 'American made' (57 percent) than one from a U.S. automaker that was built outside the U.S. (43 percent)".

Our take

Unfortunately, AutoTrader didn't supply information about its survey methodology, so we don't know the number of shoppers surveyed or how the study was conducted. That makes us wonder if these numbers would hold up across the general population.

Do these findings match your own experiences and priorities? Do you pay attention to where your vehicle was built? Do you care? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.

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