An interesting article on cars.com lists the top ten American made cars. The determining factor is the percentage of parts by cost in the finished vehicle coming from the U.S. and Canada. The list has many of the usual cars and trucks from Ford and Chevy but also includes the Toyota Camry and Sienna. American cars, from Toyota? I understand their reasoning but does it make sense? Which gets me thinking, what is an American motorcycle?
In the global market we’re all part of these days, with parts and vehicles traveling both directions over the oceans, motorcycles from Harley Davidson are clearly American, right? But how about Honda and Kawasaki, both of whom build many motorcycles here in the U.S. with parts most likely made here as well. With Harley Davidson setting up shop all over the world, how long before production moves all over, too. If HD starts producing parts in Japan or China, is there a tipping point where they become Japanese or Chinese? For that matter, I don’t follow the production details very closely so HD could already be building a lot of parts overseas.
Company ownership, or more frequently, where the company originated, has often been the deciding factor, but that leads to Japanese companies building American motorcycles or perhaps vice versa. With cars it becomes the case quite often. GM and Ford build a lot of cars around the world that are never sold here. Are those European cars, American cars, or what?
Company nationality, if it’s important, can be one thing, vehicle nationality something else. In years past when a product was completely manufactured in one country with parts from that country the issue was clear. Jobs related to that product were the concern but now with Honda, Kawasaki and Toyota and many other foreign companies employing tens of thousands here in the U.S. the issue is pretty muddy.
It makes for an interesting discussion especially with last week’s suggestion that GM should partner with Renault and Nissan for a U.S., French, Japanese conglomerate like the German/American Daimler Chrysler. Maybe we should all just look at the company name and call it that and forget where it comes from. But will we ever do that? Should we do that? I have my own ideas but I would be interested in yours. Is it important to call a motorcycle American or Japanese? What do you say?
Link: Cars.com via Autoblog