If you watched any televised sports programs this weekend, it is likely that you saw a commercial for the Toyota Camry that featured the "Star Spangled Banner" and the Japanese car company's proud declaration that the Camry was just named the "Most American-Made Car" on the road for the third year in a row:
Technically, the ad is wrong. Camry is not the "most American car for the third year in a row." This was actually the fourth consecutive #1 for the Camry. Cars.com decides which car is #1 based on a few factors. From the company's website, here is the explanation of the criteria used:
Cars.com's American-Made Index rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include sales, where the car's parts come from and whether the car is assembled in the U.S. We disqualify models with a domestic parts content rating below 75 percent, models built exclusively outside the U.S. or models soon to be discontinued without a U.S.-built successor.
Camrys are assembled at plants in Kentucky and Indiana, earning the car-maker big points. Additionally, Camry sales in the states have been strong for decades.
80% of the parts used to build a Camry originate in America. The Toyota Avalon with 85% actually has a higher percentage of American parts and is assembled in Kentucky. However, the much more expensive Avalon does not sell as many cars as the Camry.
Take a look at the Cars.com list of the top 10 most American-made cars based on make / model / U.S. assembly location(s) -- four of the top five "most American-made" cars carry the Toyota and Honda badges.
- Toyota Camry Georgetown, Ky.; Lafayette, Ind.
- Ford F-150 Dearborn, Mich.; Claycomo, Mo. -
- Honda Accord Marysville, Ohio
- Toyota Sienna Princeton, Ind.
- Honda Pilot Lincoln, Ala.
Seriously, four out of five, or 80%, of the top five "most American made" cars have Japanese nameplates. This appears to fly in the face of the hype behind the resurgence of Detroit. Both the 2011 and 2012 Superbowls featured Chrysler ads touting the American auto industry's revival. 2012's "Halftime In America" ad (narrated by Clint Eastwood) claimed that Chrysler cars were "Imported From Detroit."
That ad has rankled some who point to the Chrysler 300. One of Chrysler's biggest success stories is assembled just across the border in Canada. Perhaps that slogan should be changed to, "Imported from Canada, which is very close to Detroit."
Technically speaking, the label "most American-made" should be the "most North American-made" as the 1992 law that created the list (The American Automobile Labeling Act) counts parts made in Canada.
Here is a snapshot of part of the 2012 list showing the top 21 vehicles based on the percentage of parts manufactured in (North) America.
Interesting to note that the Chevy Impala and Toyota Matrix -- two of the cars with the highest percentage of (North) American-made parts -- are assembled in Canada and therefore not eligible for the "Most American-Made" award.