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Opinion

Are Cars Still Made in America?

2011-Ford-Explorer-Redesigned-PictureMade in America. With the amount of trade we do with countries like China, Japan and some European nations, that's a slogan we seldom hear nowadays. From t-shirts to electronics, most everything Americans use is imported.

The New York International Auto Show finishing up this past weekend got me thinking that while there are still certain cars that are built in the U.S, the auto industry here is a little bit backwards from what it used to be 40 years ago.

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, brands like Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Chrysler and Dodge were all quintessentially American nameplates and they were all produced in the aptly named "Motor City."

But today, many of these brands are built overseas rather than here in the states. Yes, General Motors builds the Corvette in Bowling Green, K.Y, but it also produces the new Chevy SS in Australia, the Chevy Sonic is built in Korea on the same chassis as its sister, the Daewoo Aveo and Buick is now one of the top selling car brands in China.

Meanwhile, Chrysler is now owned by Fiat, with the company producing the 2015 Jeep Renegade in Italy on the Fiat 500L platform and the Dodge Dart on the same chassis as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and while Ford still boasts different plants in Michigan, Ohio and upstate New York, they have always built their popular Fusion model in Mexico. They only added another assembly facility in Flat Rock, MI in August of 2013 to keep up with demand.

One would think that creating jobs in America would be a priority for the "Big Three" American auto makers. But in recent years, that job has been left up to the Koreans and the Japanese.

According to HyundaiUSA.com, the popular automaker boasts an engineering facility in Michigan, a design, research and development facility in California and a manufacturing facility in Alabama.

The website also says these plants provide Americans with 94,000 jobs and contributed $7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011. Honda boasts three automobile production plants in Ohio and another in Alabama.

Toyota's website says the manufacturer operates 10 U.S. plants which employ 365,000 Americans and produce just fewer than 1.3 million vehicles.

Of these 1.3 million cars and trucks, nine models are built exclusively in the U.S. (for example, the Corolla is manufactured in Mississippi, the Tacoma and Tundra in Texas and the Camry in both Kentucky and Indiana).

So while American car makers still build some of their models in America, they have discovered it is more cost effective to produce their cars on the same frames as cars they produce overseas under different nameplates.

This means that they will more than likely build the cars we drive overseas with their foreign counterparts, which leads to closed plants and lost jobs here in the states.

Thankfully, there are other manufacturers who, despite the fact that they're foreign, still employ American men and women and even though many American cars are not made here, it's because of these auto makers that the idea of "Made in America" is not as quite dead yet.

PHOTO TAKEN from carfinderservice.com

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