Information Gleaned from Domestic Content Labels

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I am curious about the domestic content of various cars, so I stopped by a couple of car dealers last night to check out the domestic content labels.
In 35 years of car buying, I never recall seeing one. But, sure enough, they were on most cars and light trucks on the lots. I wonder where they go when I test drive a car? Apparently they are not required on heavy duty trucks (like an F250).
The labels list the percentage of domestic content for a "Car Line" not for the particular car you are looking at. And it is not even for the cars from a particular plant. It is domestic content of the theoretical volume weighted average member of a "Car Line." This means that no matter what Camry you look at, no matter where it was actually built, the domestic content label is going to show the same percentage of domestic content. This is why Camrys built in Japan are still labeled as having 80% domestic content. The particular Camry built in Japan might have 0% domestic content, but when all Camrys (and Solaras) sold in the US are averaged together, the average domestic content is 80%. Likewise, Ford Mustangs all are claimed to have a 70% domestic content whether they are a V-6 manual, or a V-8 automatic. Clearly a V-6 Automatic Mustang, which has a German engine and a French transmission, has a much lower domestic content than a V-8 Automatic Mustang, which has US built engines and transmissions. Still they both have the same domestic content percentage shown on the label. The labels do show the country of origin for engines and transmissions and the country of assembly. I have no idea how they account for changes in demand for different version or when Toyota imports additional Camrys to meet higher than expected demand. I suppose the labels are based on projected volumes. I do not know if they are updated if reality doesn't conform to the projections.
I think calling items produced in the US or Canada as "domestic" is not sensible since NAFTA was implemented. Why is Mexico treated differently than Canada? Aren't we all one big happy free trade area? I also think it is not clear how a particular component is counted as "domestic." To be counted as a "domestic fender" does the steel have to come from the US or Canada or merely be stamped out in the US or Canada? Does an electronic component have to have components sourced in the US or Canada, or just have the final assembly done in the US or Canada?
My opinion is that he Domestic Content Labels are not particularly useful, and that they may actually be misleading. They do not reflect the domestic content of the actual car you are looking at, but rather they are the average domestic content for cars in that particular car line. Regardless of their usefulness, here is what the labels claim for various car lines:
Toyota 4Runner - 0% Toyota Siena - 80% Toyota Highlander - 5% Toyota Prius - 0% Toyota Matrix - 70% Toyota Corolla - 60% Toyota Tacoma - 65% Toyota Avalon - 75% Toyota Camry / Solara - 80% Scion xA, xB, xC - 0% Toyota Yaris - 0% Toyota Tundra (new version) - 75% Toyota RAV4 - 0% Ford Ranger - 80% Ford F150 - 90% Ford Mustang - 70% Ford Escape - 2007 - 80%, 2008 - 65% Ford Edge / Lincoln MXK - 95% Ford Five Hundred / Mercury Montego - 80% Ford Freestyle - 85% Ford Explorer / Mercury Mountaineer - 80% Ford Fusion / Mercury Milan / Lincoln MKZ - 50% Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis / Lincoln Town Car - 90%
One thing I found interesting was the sparce number of Ford Fusions on the lots at Ford dealers. I stopped at two Ford dealers and there was a total of 6 Fusions on the lots. I assume this means they are selling really well.
Ed
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This is a result of the American Automotive Labeling Act (AALA), not NAFTA. NAFTA itself was an expansion of a law that was agreed upon with Canada (the agreement is technically not a treaty).
The AALA also is known as the VIN first digit requirement act, and specifies that the first digit of the VIN reflect the US content of the vehicles, not just the US/Canadian content.
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/regrev/Evaluate/809208.html
This sort of answers the question about parts made in the US from foriegn material: http://www.ftc.gov/os/1997/12/epsmadeusa.htm
It seems that if something is transformed in the US, then it counts as made in the US. I would think stamping steel into a bumper counts.
I was yanking your chain about the VINs. Couldn't resist. The whole idea that the VIN represents content is a figment of someone's imagination. Unless he dreams in color, in which it is a pigment of his imagination.

That's good. Ford needs to sell every car it can.
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On Thu, 15 Mar 2007 02:32:18 +0000, Jeff wrote:

CONSUMERS' AWARENESS AND INFLUENCE BY THE AALA LABELS
In a survey of 646 people who had bought or leased new vehicles during the past 6 months or were planning to do so within 3 months:
* 23%* knew of the existence of the AALA label
* 15%* said they had seen an AALA label
* 7%* had read the label at a dealership
* 5%* said they were influenced by the label to any degree whatsoever
* 2%* were moderately or strongly influenced by the label because it identified the vehicle's country of assembly
! * nobody said they used the labels to comparison-shop among make-models according to their percentages of U.S./Canadian parts content
I do. If I'm buying a Japanese car, I *WANT* a Japanese car!!!!
One of the reasons I bought a Scion: Percentage of Domestic parts: 0%
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On Thu, 15 Mar 2007 01:58:14 +0000, C. E. White wrote:

So what this says is the Camry car line has a higher percentage of 'domestic' parts than the Mustang?!?! Cool!
And that also explains why a Camry with a "J" VIN had 75% Domestic content (in 2005)

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I would guess that a Mustang GT Automatic probably has a domestic content closer to 85%, and the V-6 Automatic is probably less that 60%. But that is only a guess.

I imagine a "J" Camrys actually had a Domestic Content of 0%. The Domestic Content label has nothing to do with the domestic content of any particular Camry, just the theoretical average Camry sold in the US. This implies that US built 2005 Camrys must have had a Domestic Content of around 80% to offset the imported Camrys low domestic content.
Ed
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<...>
Also, some parts probably came from the US. Toyota actually imports catalytic convertors into Japan.
While cats are expensive, that probably doesn't explain the 75% figure, though.
Jeff
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On Thu, 15 Mar 2007 03:22:01 +0000, Jeff wrote:

Well, like CE said, the sticker covers the entire car line, not the car itself. That's why I was wondering why a Camry with a "J" VIN had the same content as one made in KY...
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Well after looking at the domestic content labels, I have pretty much written them off as useless at best and at worst deliberately misleading. IF you actually cared about where the money was going for the car you are buying, the information presented is not nearly detailed enough. The Camry is a good example. If you were nationalistic and wanted to make sure your Camry had the highest possible US content, the labels don't tell you enough. The labels for all Camrys list exactly the same domestic content (however they do list the country of origin for the engine and transmission, and the final assembly location). With modern computers and inventory control, it would not be all that hard to print the actual domestic content on the window sticker for the car you are considering. However, based on the NHTSA link previously posted, it seems most Americans don't even know the labels exist, and even fewer actually care. And in some cases, I think the labels hurt the sale of "domestic" vehicles since some people apparently would refer their car to be assembled in Japan by Japanese workers. I guess they like the idea of being an economic colony of Japan. I guess I am lucky to have at least part of my income provided by providing raw materials / food. I am sure the Japanese will need to continue to import soybeans.
Ed
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C. E. White wrote:

======= Ed, you're absolutely right that content information on the Origins Sticker refers to the entire car *line*, not the individual car. I swung by the Toyota dealership early this morning, and noticed that the Origins Sticker is worded quite differently this year for the new '07 Camrys.
The new wording leaves room for no ambiguity. Unlike last year's stickers, the new stickers now include the following phrase that clears up any confusion:
"Parts Content information for vehicles in this *CARLINE*: U.S./Canada parts content: 75%
The old stickers mentioned nothing about "Carline."
So Hachi, regarding the J-Vin Camrys, you can be excused for thinking last year that [QUOTE]: "the bodies are assembled in the US minus the drive trains, and then put on one of the Marus and sent back to Japan for final assembly. The reason? Who knows? Perhaps Toyota has to manufacture a certain amount of autos in Japan to still be considered a Japanese auto maker (?). My only other guess is that they are sending parts to Japan and then assembling them there." [END QUOTE]
Until the new Origins Stickers came out with the clear wording, we were all confused. But Hachi, buddy, you offered the wildest theories :-P
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On Thu, 15 Mar 2007 09:58:41 -0700, Built_Well wrote:

What the Hell?!?! You archiving my posts for future reference?!?!? ;)
The stickers now say "For this car line" They didn't then, so I just made a wild guess. Hey, I was wrong before. And, you snipped the part where I said it was speculation!!!
Once...
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Hachiroku HaTiRoKu wrote:

======= Of course I do. Where would my Camry be without the Meguiar's Number-26 you recommended?
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On Thu, 15 Mar 2007 12:55:30 -0700, Built_Well wrote:

LOL! Well, that's a good thing! Glad to see I have some purpose in life.
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On Thu, 15 Mar 2007 11:11:41 -0400, C. E. White wrote:

Doesn't bother me a whole lot. Hate to say it, but the Japanese made cars are made better...
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Tell that to Honda, who had to buy back our Odessey a few years ago under my state's lemon law....

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Are they really? How so? Which years?
Thanks,
Michael
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Since about 20% of Camrys are still built in Japan, this implies the existence of Camrys that are 100% American.
So, if I want an American car, I should run down to my Toyota dealer and simply pick one that was assembled here.
Thanks for the tip.
[snip]

To put a label on the car that says, "the domestic content of THIS car is XX%" would require additional work that some car companies probably don't want to do. Wouldn't surprise me if their lobbyists worked against such a requirement.

Are ALL of those assembled in Mexico or is there a US factory, too? The Hermosillo plant is profiled in the "Bold Moves" video on the Fusion but whether or not there's also a US plant is unclear.

Now, if the run of the mill Camry is 80% domestic and most are also assembled here, is that car more or less "American" than a Fusion built of 50% non-US parts that is then assembled in Mexico?
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


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wrote in message> Since about 20% of Camrys are still built in Japan, this implies the

In February, around 23% of the Camrys sold in the US were imported. This implies to me that the US assembled Camrys must be close to 100% domestic content (US + Canada) and that imported Camry must have >5% domestic content as well, or the labels are just wrong.

Seems that way, as long as you are buying a Camry.

With the sort of inventory control that modern manufacturers are using, I suspect it could be calculated easily and added to the standard window sticker with minimal effort. But given the way "domestic content" is defined, I am not sure it would be meaningful.
....

There is no US factory at this time. It seems that the Fusions are selling well, so maybe Ford will have to reconsider having them all built in Mexico.

I'd say that the Camry has many more hours of "US American" labor per car than the Fusion. As to where the money eventually goes, I have no idea. I do think it is inherently unfair to treat Mexico different than Canada. If a Fusion was built in Canada by Canadian workers, the domestic content would probably be over 90%.
Ed
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The NAP content label is indeed misleading and you are correct, it applies to the vehicle line. If a manufacture buys steel in the US and stamps parts in the US from that steel, it counts as US content as well as NAP. If the steel is imported and the stamping is done in Canada, or the US, it counts as NAP but those parts are NOT US content for the VIN designation of the number '1,' by the US Department of Commerce
The stamped part, or the steel, or the component parts, of any part that is ONLY finally assembled in the US or Canada from imported components it counted on the NAP label but does NOT count as US content. If the US content of base materials, steel, plastics, rubber, glass, engineering , R&D, etc., fall below 70% the VIN assigned is a '4,' if it falls below 40% the VIN assigned is a '5'
For example the Accord get a '1' and the Camry a '4.'
Ford is going to have to start building the Fusion in a second plant. The Hermosa plant does not have the build capacity.to meet the current growth in demand
mike

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You are free to believe whatever you choose but as one might expect you are incorrect, not all Hondas assembled in the US have a '1.' Not all Toyotas have a '4' Does it not make you curious as to why Toyota would be assigned a '4' and '5,' as a world manufacturer as you want to believe, and Nissan who began assembly in the US long after Toyota would gets a '1?' Don't you find it strange, following your logic that ALL of the '1s' would be assigned before they 'ran out' of '1s' as you believe, before they would issue 4 and 5? I told you a dozen times were to search. I could not care less whether you do so, or not
mike

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