Americans are patriotic, and they are more apt to want to buy American than they have been in the past. I actually heard this from two places today. First from a new study by Cars.com about which cars are really, really American, and then from a top marketer at a network.
The problem, or maybe it's not a problem, since most people think nameplate, not provenance: Cars.com, out with its 10th annual "American-Made Index" that rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. every year, reveals that there are actually fewer and fewer cars "made in America."
Cars.com bases it on percentage of parts considered domestic under federal regulations, whether the car is assembled in the U.S. and overall U.S. sales. The company says this year is the first in which fewer than 10 cars get to call themselves "American made." Five years ago, 29 cars were on the AMI list. It's the overall domestic parts content mix that is shrinking. In other words, cars touted as "American" may be assembled here, but they aren't "made" here. The parts, the heavy industry, in other words, are more often coming from countries where heavy industry still exists.
“This year’s list of eligible cars is down to just seven, the smallest number we’ve ever seen,” said Cars.com editor-in-chief, Patrick Olsen. “Just five years ago, 29 cars qualified for the American-Made Index, and today it is fewer than ten.”
Guess which car is most all-American, per Cars.com's study? Toyota's Camry, which is built in Kentucky. Camry kicks Ford's F-150 off the podium. The pickup truck is not even on Cars.com's list as they fell below 75% in domestic parts content with the new model. Not that this will have the slightest effect on consideration in Texas. Pickup trucks are about capability. I have an awfully hard time thinking someone who needs a capable truck and finds what they are looking for in a Nissan or Toyota is really going to give a cow's hide about the nameplate.
But maybe I'm wrong. The Cars.com poll also shows that loyalty to Detroit automakers is running stronger now than it did four years ago. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they would only consider American automakers when they shop for cars, up from 23% in 2011. That is not a big increase, and it's based on perception, obviously, not reality.