Americans are full of patriotic pride — almost everyone in the world is aware of this national trait — and for decades,
most U.S. citizens were devoted to purchasing American-made cars. However, since the Great Recession of 2008 and the fall of the U.S. auto industry, fewer car buyers have seen the point in searching out stickers that read “Made in the U.S.A.”
As the economy slowly, but surely continues to regain its footing, there remains immense value in supporting American workers and companies by buying U.S.-made vehicles.
What Counts as American
When most people think about American products — as in those that can truthfully be marked with a “Made in America” stamp — they only consider goods that are created in America by American laborers employed by American companies. For example, American automaker Ford manufactures more than 16 different models at 12 factories around the country, which is perhaps why it has retained its all-American appeal for so long.
However, while these products certainly are certifiably American, they aren’t the only products that improve the American economy. Since the fall of Detroit and the collapse of the American auto industry, of the small handful of American automotive companies that survived, many were bailed out by richer foreign automakers looking to snag a bigger stake in the American market. For example, Chrysler, a historically American company, is now owned by Fiat, which is based in Italy. Most Americans interested in benefiting American workers would scoff at purchasing a Chrysler — but the truth is that Chrysler continues to manufacture 10 different models (click to view inventory) within American borders, and if these cars are left unpurchased, American jobs are put at risk.
Even car companies with foreign names, created and operated outside of the U.S., maintain factories in the country. Korean and Japanese automakers like Kia, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda all capitalize on the huge American market for automobiles, and they prefer to use local labor to build various models — both for the time and money saved on shipping and excise taxes.
Thus, in the new age of the American automotive industry, car buyers need to expand their definition of “Made in America” to “Built in America” or something similar.
How Buying American Helps
Nissan primarily has factories in Mississippi, which has ranked as the poorest state in the Union for several years in a row. At just one of Nissan’s vehicle plants, the car company has invested more than $2.5 billion, and every year it pays more than 5,600 employees a total of $200 million. That means that every year, by buying Nissan cars, American drivers are supporting that community in Mississippi with more than $200 million in funds for food, clothing, houses, school supplies, and other essentials. This example perfectly highlights how buying American helps.
Not only do automakers’ factories contribute in the form of wages, but many automakers are heavily invested in the health of the communities where their employees live. Because these companies rely on the happiness and productivity of their workers, they want their communities to be able to nourish their workers with the support they need. Thus, automakers frequently make large donations to local charities or substantial contributions to cities’ coffers with the intent of improving the area both in appearance and livability.
For example, Kia recently gave the city of West Point, Georgia — where they own a manufacturing plant — $900,000 to do with as the city sees fit. Similarly, Nissan annually spends around $10 million in charitable donations, some of which as grant money through the Nissan Foundation. Though both of these countries would traditionally be labeled “foreign,” their use of American resources and labor has a profound effect on the American economy — and on American happiness.
While not every automaker has factories within American borders — and not every automaker that does produces every make and model on United States soil — there are substantial benefits to seeking out vehicles that were produced in the U.S. In all, billions of dollars are channeled into the American economy from automobile manufacturing in the United States. Additionally, millions of American citizens work for car manufacturers and are dependent on car buyers for their continued employment. By purchasing only vehicles that are “Made in the U.S.A.” car buyers are ensuring the future health of the country and the millions of people who live here.