Made in America? Look closely at cars and you may be surprised.


What is an American car? – American made. You know big, better, badder you know. Chris Longo builds and restores cars for a living, American cars. – We’ve got to build within our country. This is what America’s new trade policy is all about. – Buy American and hire American. Protecting American workers. Except GM, Ford, those symbols of America, aren’t even really made in America. No car that comes off the line today is 100% made in America. – Driving a Canadian Impala. And if you really want to support American workers, you could buy Japanese. I’m Preeti Varathan. This is Quartz. Subscribe to our channel for more videos like this. This is the Yuko-En Japanese garden. It’s not in Japan. It’s not anywhere in Asia. It’s in Georgetown, Kentucky. Because of cars. We went to Georgetown to understand what America makes. Georgetown is home to one of the biggest auto plants in the world. A plant that today can produce more than 500,000 cars and 600,000 engines in a year. A plant that makes a car so American, by some measures, it ranked as the most American-made vehicle two years in a row. It’s the Japanese Toyota Camry. – This is it, May of 1988. – Does it bring back fond memories? – Oh yeah. This is Avery Bussell. Thirty years ago, he started on the team that built the very first North American Camry. Yep, that one there. He’s one of more than 8,000 Americans working at this plant. Avery says that because of his job at Toyota, he’s making more money than he ever thought he would. – From a financial standpoint, you know, we’re very fortunate. But Toyota has brought more than jobs to Georgetown. – I remember when I came across that hill in 1979, it looked like it was dying, and I think it was. That’s Jack Conner. He helps businesses get off the ground in Georgetown. He says you can see the effects of Toyota everywhere. – This is what happens when you build that very, very strong manufacturing base, and the numbers don’t lie. The numbers he’s talking about, the knock-on effects of having a company like Toyota come to town. Toyota uses more than a hundred suppliers, Kentucky companies that make everything from its seats to its tires. Toyota has supported schools, students, universities. It’s attracted more than 70 Japanese companies to Kentucky, companies that hire Americans. – Business is thriving in this area? – Business is thriving. And Georgetown isn’t a special, isolated case. There are foreign car companies all over America. BMW’s biggest plant is in South Carolina. Kia has a plant in Georgia. Hyundai is making cars in Alabama. Honda just opened its 12th American plant. And a lot of these factories are expanding. For the first time, foreign car companies are set to make more cars in America than American companies will. The forces that pushed American car companies to move overseas have made it so that fewer cars are actually made in America. But it also means that many of the cars that are made here are not made by American companies, and that basically no car today is entirely made in America, or in any one country. We know because we tried to find a completely American car. And we actually did. – I think this one is probably about 100%. Yep, the one that looks like it belongs to James Bond. Chris Longo has painstakingly sourced every part. Its chassis is from Washington state. Its turbo is built in America. Its engine was made in America. Its tires are local. It’s also decades old and expensive, very expensive. To get a car that’s 100% made in America, Chris had to restore it himself, because cars are just not made like that anymore. – That’s curious. That’s interesting, a Ford coming in from India. Frank DuBois is a professor at American University. He’s obsessed with one question: How made in America is your car? – I used to work on Volkswagens. So I became pretty familiar with tools and repair quite early. As a teenager, he fixed cars. Now as a professor, he’s created the most comprehensive made in America index. It’s got over 500 cars. He’s pretty much the expert on where cars are from. – And I go up and I, if it’s parked I look at the VIN number if I’m curious, you know. – Yeah? So a car lot like this, is kind of Frank’s version of a candy store. – It’s from Canada. American. It’s Mexican. Alright, here’s a guy with an American flag, patriotic. – Very patriotic. – Driving a Canadian Impala. Frank says figuring out where a car is made is actually super complicated. – I think it was made in the U.S. but I bet it was made in Mexico. – What does that mean? – It means you can’t always tell a book by its cover. To understand that look at Ford. Ford is an American company. And some of its cars are sourced and made in America. But its transmissions are also made in Brazil, Slovakia, the UK, China, France, and Germany. And its engines can come from Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, or Turkey. Freshly minted Fords come off the line in plants all over the globe. Because Ford assembles cars in China, India, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada, and Germany. You get it. This is why Frank likes to say that cars are more like humans than objects. They’ve got messy DNA. They can be part Indian, part Mexican, part Hungarian and American. And this, the complicated, messy DNA of cars, is all a product of trade. Frank thinks this is a good thing. Competition has given us better cars. And moving factories to cheaper places brings down prices. Whether or not you agree with him, globalization is a reality. Because pretty much all of the products that surround us, besides the ones we can grow to the ground, are just like cars. They have messy DNA, too. And that messy DNA means policies that protect American industry, and only American industry, are really hard to pull off. A tariff on imported cars and parts would hurt foreign car companies like BMW and Toyota, because they do build cars overseas. But it would also hurt big American companies like Ford, GM and Chevy. The same way steel tariffs help American steel, while hurting the American car industry. Because when America slaps tariffs on a good they might be helping one type of American worker, but they’re usually hurting other kinds of American workers, and plenty of foreign workers. If the lesson from cars is anything, it’s that what you think of as American, isn’t necessarily American. And what you think of as foreign isn’t either. Frank isn’t saying Toyota is 100% American, because where the idea for the car came from, the design, the R&D, that matters too. – It’s an American car insofar as it’s assembled in America, using American labor. But, at the end of the day, it’s a blend of Japanese. And those profits go back to the engineers, designers, the executives, the shareholders, people in Japan. But to guys like Avery, guys on the assembly line, they don’t see Toyota as foreign. They see it as American, as Georgetown, Kentucky. – When I hear Toyota, it’s, it’s Georgetown. It’s Scott County. It’s Kentucky. – Do you think Kentuckians feel a pride in Toyota or a loyalty to Toyota? – Yes. Yes, very much so. To guys like Avery, it isn’t the brand or company that dictates how made in America a thing is. It’s the place, the workers, people like him. Hey guys, thanks for watching this video. Does it matter to you where your things are made? Let us know in the comments, and subscribe to the Quartz channel for more of our videos.

100 thoughts on “Made in America? Look closely at cars and you may be surprised.”

  1. Competition has given us…better cars? Professor Frank….do you mean better in a sense of longevity? or better in a sense of corporate profitabilty or both? Are the manufacturing or quality practices of Toyota in Japan the same as it would be in a Toyota plant in India? What about Toyota in China? Hmmm…..

  2. We make more in America than any time in history. It just doesn’t require nearly as many humans anymore with robots taking over

  3. I don't have an issue with imports BUT there has to be a reason for it other than saving money on labor. I'm not just talking about cars either.

  4. Just imagine a media landscape, where content forwarding one agenda, is tethered with a reverse parametric that conjures up the opposite sentiment (straight onto nervous systems), triggered and sent to same location when media content is being watched.

    Providing jobs for pirates operating from offshore havens, concealed by a maze of mirror sites, to do such shadow work that violates body and mind, entering through the backdoor and never admitted to.

    To aggregate and assign roles (pro or contra, ins or outs, blacks or whites) based on which type of data molds your attitudes more. Essentially turning all non English (or other major language, tech enabled nations) pirates, contras and subversives. Especially where governments are weak, or cannot deliver on idiotic demands required for being treated as credible leadership .

    Where giving up of humanity (based on laws of hedonic regression theory, where greater satisfaction accrued from science and technology, must be paid up by foregoing natural pleasures. In which even defecation will soon have a scientifically and engineeringly justified reason, that defines it as undesirable.

    Don't mind giving up shitting, but when sexuality is neutralized or brought fully into virtual spaces, will the same insanity that has brought us to these points, and still looms large, in the physcial world as well as digital ecologies, will the same bestial and vicious great ape minds (that has brought us full circle from Bhagavad Ghita to Star Wars) still be large and in charge.

    White ghosts and his black shadows and the yellow merchants selling out brown lands inch by inch! Congratulations people of Earth, consider yourself officially alienated from yourself. All you need to do now is find another host organism to infect, shape it to suit your purpose, slowly kill it and then look for another ship to jump onto to evade last crime

  5. Yes it matters but it matters more that the company is paying it employees well, has nice work areas, gives back to every community that it is located in, makes good quality products, isn't abusing the land or animals. I think we need to rethink how we think about pay and profit, if you don't pay people enough to buy the stuff they make you won't be in business for long.

  6. be American and don't buy a damn thing from Pakistan the land that promotes terrorism and harbors terrorists like Osama Bin Ladin.

  7. I agree with the sentiments of the video but s it true that soon more cars will be made by non-USA companies than local ones? As far as I know in the USA the fastest growing car brand by a big margin is Tesla and they are about as USA made as any car company (I am not an American though… just curious).

  8. Many car factories are in different countries but it does not important. Headquarters are important and in conclusion, American car brands have headquarters in America. Company management, Taxes and money stay in the USA. Ford has a lot of factories in all over the world and Ford has a factory in Turkey so is it a Turkish car brand? Of course no, Ford is an American brand or for example, BMW has a factory in China. So is BMW a chinese car brand? BMW's headquarter is in Germany so it's a German car. Like this.

  9. Interesting….why does Kentucky vote Trump when he ignorantly and foolishly wants to abolish international trade and rob their pocket?

  10. such a huge portion of the cost goes to labor, parts, factory overhead and a much smaller portion is profits. Its no doubt much more advantageous to Americans to be a foreign company making parts and doing assembly in america, Than being an american company building cars elsewhere. MUCH more of the money actually stays in the US because labor and factory overhead along with parts is almost all of the cost of a car. Profit margins on vehicles is quite small, far from say, the tech industry profits per item.

  11. Don't worry I'm here now to clear the air. I own a manufacturing business in the USA. This video is misleading. Tariffs temporarily increase prices for American businesses who import. Once they develop the infrastructure and cease importing, the net gain is much higher. Tariffs should have been established decades ago. Also Tariffs help increase exports and currently USA has a massive deficit on exports in many industries because the opposite is true in that foreign countries have high tariffs on American goods.

  12. So i thought ford assembly only in america. But this video tell they are so many ford assembly in around the world. So why ? Also, america said is a super power country, so they dont need help from another country to made assembly cars

  13. Why would we need 100% America? What happens are job and pay… who cares about car seats from China only 10$ profit and 4 dollar for employee…

  14. I did not know the most American car was a Toyota Camry, thanks for the new info. At the end of the day, it's all about supporting the livelihoods of the most citizens, not the companies itself. The American branded companies could someday HQ in the Canary Islands to avoid paying taxes for all we know LOL

  15. Lets get it right, america is the land of immigrants so anything made in america is not the white american these patriots have benefited from by outsourcing the labor the country is built on.

  16. I think that vintage ford mustang GT is made entirely in America
    . it's funny though you used that car as the thumbnail for this video.

  17. You got UAW to blame for the job loss. When a manual laborer makes/costs more than an intellectual, then those manufacturing jobs will have to go overseas.

  18. I love this and one of the better ones made that take something complex and make it simple yet still has its subtleties of higher explanation.

  19. James Bond? Your looking for an American car and you pick that name? Why not James Dean? Jeez, people and history nowadays.

  20. I dont care about america or cars. But i do care about that female reporter. She's hot and gorgeous. Anyone have her contact numbers?

  21. yes cus im one those people that believes this country doesn't always need another country to make somthin and about the imported cars guess i cant say that no more cus of the fact that not every part of the car is imported from that specific country of origin

  22. To me it's all about price and quality. I don't care if I can read the instruction manual. It's all about functionality.

  23. Buy "American" is a cultural statement rather than an economic one. People who say that understand that American car brands are a part of the country's ethos, they want to preserve that, it's not about technicalities like oh look that one has a door lock that was made in Suriname. It's like Budweiser, Coca Cola, Harley Davidson, Baseball, apple pie and barbecues, that's what it's about, cultural pride. It simply wouldn't be America if everybody was drinking Coronas and Perrier while riding Kawasaki bikes.

  24. Nothing good news for asian people or countries of American medias at all, else it would make non whites superior than them, that's no no, lost their best superior status.

  25. So much other people take American jobs, more like American people take jobs of others for real. Great, asian business n companies hire tons real big Americans but American companies n corporations very prejudice against Asians to work for theirs, no wonder many America business and companies are dying due they have too white, too little asians, hiahhiahhiahiah, hiahhiahhiahiah. Bunch of racist troublemakers, prisoners, assholes n terrorist, nationalist n racist troublemakers, uneducated, incompetent, unemployed, welfare, losers, addicts, redneckk, peasants, beggars, hibilly, scammer, debtbroke, white trash etc. .. Kackackackac.

  26. Tesla is the most American car maker. And Elon Musk is the the richest African- American. We Wuz CEOs an Sheeiit

  27. When you used that “like humans” metaphor, I have to say it might be lost on a lot of MAGA people, who would prefer to believe they are 100% American through and through.

  28. Your video seems biased against American companies. Ford, GM and Chrysler make millions of cars, SUVs, and pickups in the USA.

  29. "Globalization is a reality"
    Finally there's someone wise. It has already happened when there was trace, which was about 1200 years ago.

  30. these are legal terms: buy in USA or buy made in USA, then Buy America is anywhere in north central south america…
    Im ok with some made in our backyard as long as we are not buying from china.

  31. American cars remind me of a big dumb muscle guy. Muscle and nothing else. And please, come hell or high water, I will never live in Ohio, Alabama or South Carolina

  32. I don't care if it's made in China, if it originates from the USA, it is an American car. American car brands have assembly plants around the globe. IE Ford GT is made in Canada, but it's from the USA so it's American. Mercedes have assembly plants in Russia too, but does that make them Russian?

  33. Multinational corporations take profits from their host countries and rather than seeing the wealth eventually, the natives of the country are left without.

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