Archive for July, 2011

2011 Ford Explorer

Cars.com is misleading the American public again with their conceptually faulty “American-made Index” that was just recently published by the website for 2011 model cars. 

These rankings, which Cars.com promotes as the most American-made cars on the market, lists the Toyota Camry the #1 most American-made car for the second year in a row.  That distinction should have rightly gone to the Ford Explorer.  The Ford Explorer is made in Chicago, Illinois and has more domestic parts content than the Camry.  In fact, the Explorer has the highest domestic parts content of any vehicle currently in production  which is still being sold through 2011 .  That means it beats the Camry on this website’s list of most American-made vehicles.  (Point of Clarification: the Ford Sport Trac has 90 percent domestic content, but was discontinued after production of model year 2010 was complete; however, it is reportedly still being sold in Ford dealerships through calendar year 2011.)

Please don’t misunderstand me; I am extremely pleased that Toyota chooses to produce many of their automobiles in the U.S., thereby creating American jobs.  But putting the Camry on top of a rating called the “American-Made Index,” is simply wrong.

Not only is Cars.com is using questionable methodology to reach their conclusion, they do not publish the methodology they use in developing the rankings.  If these rankings are going to be cited all over the place and regarded by many to be the list of the most American-made cars, the methodology should absolutely be made public.

According to Cars.com, the three factors that were considered to create this American-made index were: country of final assembly, American-made parts content, and volume of sales.

Wait a minute! What does volume of sales have to do with anything?  If I’m going to use the “American-Made Index,” I am going to use it to buy a car that is going to be the most American-made per car. The Toyota Camry doesn’t move ahead of other cars with higher American-made parts content, like many cars produced by Ford and Chrysler because more Toyotas are sold. 

The Camry is made with 80% domestic parts content.  That’s not bad at all.  But there are several other American-made cars with higher American parts content that got skipped on this list.  These are the cars that should be making headlines for being the most American-made.  In fact, two cars with higher domestic parts content that got skipped on this list compete directly with the Camry and the Honda Accord (which Cars.com dubiously ranked second on their list). 

The Chrysler 200 Sedan (remember the “Imported From Detroit” Super Bowl commercial with Eminem) has more American-made content than either the Camry or the Accord.  So does the dodge Avenger Sedan. Both are made in Michigan.

I don’t know what Cars.com’s motivation is in creating this misleading index, but it is very counterproductive to efforts to increase consumer patriotism in this country.  Stories like these create consumer confusion, which causes many people to just give up on buying American altogether. 

If you have some time, please let Cars.com know that their index should leave sales volume out of their methodology.  They should also publish precisely how their rankings are determined. 

Here is the email address of Patrick Olsen, editor in chief at Cars.com: polsen@cars.com

American consumers could really benefit from an American-made index that doesn’t “cook the books” for certain cars.  To be acknowledged as most American-made car, you should have to actually be the most American-made car. 

Once again, here is the full list of vehicles and their domestic parts content as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Part+583+American+Automobile+Labeling+Act+%28AALA%29+Reports

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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The Ford Sport Trac is made in Louisville, Kentucky and has the highest percentage of domestic parts content - 90% - of all vehicles being sold in the U.S.

Without question, the most important time you can buy American is when you are purchasing a car.  The reason for this is simple.  A new car is second only to a home as the most expensive purchase many consumers make. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States is $28,400. That is a whole lot of money to be spent at one time on a single purchase. Choosing to buy American in this one critical instance has the same impact as buying hundreds of less expensive goods that are American-made.  In short, when buying a car, this is the time when you can do the very most to help create American jobs by buying made in U.S.A. 

Another reason it is great to buy American when buying a car is that our country makes many of the best cars in the world.  Whether it’s a car, truck, SUV, hybrid, you name it, many of the very highest rated and best-selling vehicles in the world are made right here in the U.S.A.  Regardless of what kind of vehicle you are looking for, you will likely find one that fits your needs that is made in America.

Buying American is a little more complicated for cars than most other goods though.  There are lots of foreign sounding cars, like some Toyotas and Hondas, that are actually now made in the U.S.A., and there are some traditional American car brands that are now made in other countries.  So when buying a car, we really can’t just assume based on the brand name where the car was made.  We really have to do a little more homework to make sure the car we are buying is made in the U.S.A. 

Another important consideration when car buying is the percentage of U.S. domestic parts content used to make the vehicle.  We can’t get parts content information for most goods we buy, but with cars we have access to a great deal of information.  Not only can we identify where every vehicle had its final assembly, but every car manufacturer publishes the percentage of domestic parts content used in making their vehicles.  This allows us to differentiate between the cars that have 0% domestic parts content and those that have a much higher percentage of U.S.-made content.

The parts content is important because when you buy a car, you aren’t just creating jobs for the people working in the final assembly plant; you are creating jobs for workers all the way up through the supply chain – like the person who built the transmission or the person who sewed the seats together.  Cars create lots of jobs for workers that never actually see the final product being made.  That is why it is critical to consider the percentage of domestic parts content when purchasing a car.

One thing to consider about parts content is that no car is made with 100% American-made parts anymore.  One main reason for that is every car built today has a computer chip and complex electrical system built into it.  Some of this parts content simply cannot be sourced in the U.S.A.  But we shouldn’t let that discourage us from buying an American-made car with as high a percentage of domestic parts content as possible.  Thankfully, we have over 100 cars and trucks to choose from that have 50% or more of their parts content made in the U.S.A.

If you are wondering what the most American-made car on the market is; it is the Ford Sport Trac, made by Ford Motor Company.  The Sport Trac is made in Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky plant that has been in operation since 1955.  There are 2,100 workers employed at that plant.  In addition to the Sport Trac, this plant also makes the Ford Explorer and the Mercury Mountaineer, both of which have 85% domestic parts content. 

For a full list of cars (years 2005-2011) and their percentage of U.S. parts content, go here: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Part+583+American+Automobile+Labeling+Act+%28AALA%29+Reports

Remember, there is no more important time to buy American than when you are buying a car.  And don’t forget, the higher percentage of domestic parts content the car has, the more American jobs you are creating when you buy it. 

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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Randy Erwin has been buying American strictly for over a year as part of the Buy American Challenge. Over the last year, a couple hundred people have contacted Randy and pledged to take the Buy American Challenge as well.

A year ago, I made a decision to start buying American.  I don’t mean casually buying things made in the America from time to time, I mean buying nothing but goods made in the U.S.A.

I decided to do this because I was concerned about the impact my purchasing decisions have on my neighbors, my community, and our country.  I believe there is a strong connection between the general decline in access to good American jobs – as well as the decline of the American economy as a whole – and the purchasing decisions we each make every day.  I figured, while I couldn’t turn the economy around all by myself, I could at least make sure I was doing my part to create jobs and get the economy going by buying American.  

When I decided to embark on this little journey, I had no idea what to expect.  I knew that finding the things I needed made in the U.S.A. would be a challenge, but I didn’t really know if being strict about buying American was actually possible to do.  Would the deprivation be too great?  Would it simply become too expensive to be sustained for a long period of time?  How big a sacrifice was I really willing to make to commit myself to buying American? 

Originally, I set out to buy American for just one year.  While I thought it would be nice if this became a permanent change, at the start of it all I was sure to give my Buy American Challenge an end-date.  That way if the challenge became too difficult, I could tough it out for a year and be done with it.  At least I gave it a try, right? 

But before I got very far into the challenge I discovered that buying American would be nothing like the difficult experience I had anticipated.  After a couple weeks it became very easy to do.  I found many of the American-made products I was looking for in stores locally, and the things I could not find in stores I was almost always able to find online.  I also found that while some individual items cost more when they are made in America, as a whole, buying American-made absolutely saves money.  I have saved hundreds of dollars in my estimation since I began strictly buying American.

More importantly, I have found buying American to be an amazingly rewarding, and actually fun, thing to do.  It’s rewarding because I know that with every purchase I make, I am helping to create American jobs when people need them the most.  In the last year, I have purchased a car (Ford Escape hybrid), furniture, clothes, shoes, a mattress, all kinds of consumables, a flashlight, office supplies, pet supplies, and numerous other items.  With very few exceptions (for prescriptions and the like), everything that I have purchased has been made in the U.S.A., and I know I was creating American jobs when I made those purchases. 

I find buying American fun because on the rare occasion I have trouble finding a particular good made it the U.S.A., it becomes an entertaining challenge to find it.  Learning how to hunt these products down became a thrill.  After a little while, there was practically nothing I couldn’t find made in U.S.A. online in less than five minutes.

One thing that I have found a little frustrating is that even with a great commitment to buying American, it rare that you get to see the job you helped create by buying American.  The car I purchased was assembled at the Ford plant in Kansas City, Missouri.  Maybe I helped create a new job there.  The New Balance running shoes I bought were made in one of the company’s five New England facilities.  Maybe I helped create a job there.  While I probably will never be able to identify the job that was created or meet the person who is now working that job, I know that I have done my part to create it.  It feels great to know that! 

When so many people are out there pointing fingers at who is to blame for the jobs crisis we are all experiencing, very few are actually doing something about it themselves to help fix the problem.  Those committed to buying American are doing something.

The best part about this whole experience is that I have not been doing this Buy American Challenge alone.  In the year since I started this challenge, I have had a couple hundred people contact me and say that they have committed themselves to taking the Buy American Challenge as well.  While I may not be sure if my own purchases over the last year created an American job somewhere, I am positive that the thousands and thousands of purchases made by those taking the Buy American Challenge is creating lots of jobs for Americans that need work so badly right now.  Knowing that feels amazing!

I want to thank everyone who is participating in the Buy American Challenge.  Thank you all for your selfless commitment.

Now the goal is to take this Buy American Challenge to the next level.  Sadly, we have unemployment back on the rise and a serious threat of a double-dip recession looming.  We don’t need just a couple hundred people committing themselves to buying American; we need millions of people committing themselves to it.  There are people who want to do this out there waiting to be asked.  Many are already committed to buying American in some form.  Others simply need a little education, guidance, and encouragement to start doing it. 

Imagine what 30 million people – about 10% of the American population – being committed to buying American would do for American businesses, the American worker, and the American economy.  A successful buy American movement is an economic X-factor that could completely turn our floundering economy around, and ensure our country’s long-term economic stability.  I know of no other factor that could have such a positive impact on our economic future.

We don’t have to wait around and hope Washington will fix our economic troubles.  We can fix our economic problems ourselves by buying American today.  If we wait around for the politicians to get it figured out, I believe we’ll be waiting a very long time.  I, for one, am committed to moving on and doing what I can with my own hard-earned dollars today.

A year ago I set out to go one year buying American.  Well, one year has come and gone, and I am more committed to buying American today than I ever was.  I thought that the Buy American Challenge might be just a temporaryendeavor, but having completed this year, I now know that the Buy American Challenge will be a permanent fixture in my life. 

If you believe buying American can make difference, as I do, I challenge you to take the Buy American Challenge today.  Our future depends on it.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.


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