15 American Cars From Detroit Companies Built Abroad with Lowest Domestic Content Percentage
American Vehicles That Are Actually Foreign Made Cars
Updated November 10, 2018
Globalization in every field imaginable and lower production costs. These are the reasons more and more automakers are dislocating their production facilities to countries where much higher production savings are possible. If that means “Hecho en Mexico” instead of “Made in America,” for instance, then so be it. At least that’s big American companies’ narrative on the matter. But globalization trend in auto industry isn’t a new thing. Congress passed the American Automobile Labeling Act back in October 1992. AALA mandates content information on U.S. made vehicle labels. In short, American cars require at least 70% domestic (U.S. and Canadian) content in order to be considered home made.
During those 25 years, number of American-made cars shrunk into single digits. That said, customers shopping for American-made cars by only looking at the badge often end up being deceived. It’s not uncommon for Japanese companies to use more domestic content than fully fledged Detroit-based American automakers. This is why we’ve already listed 10 of the best-sold American cars actually assembled abroad. This time, we’re listing those assembled overseas, and with lowest percentage of domestic content. In other words, 2017 year models that never deserved to be called American in the first place.
Real “American Vehicles” That Are Actually Foreign Made Cars
Let us start with vehicles sporting the most American and Canadian content. At least among the lowest ranked such models anyway. The Chrysler Pacifica has 62% domestic content but its final assembly is conducted in Canada. In Windsor, Ontario plant, to be more precise. Although not among the top 5 best-selling FCA vehicles, Pacifica still plays an important role in keeping Chrysler above the waterline.
Just like the Chrysler Pacifica, the GMC Terrain too boasts as much as 62% domestic content. Its final assembly is also in Canada. Unlike the Pacifica, however, Terrain is being built in Ingersoll, Ontario assembly plant. Since Terrain is scheduled to shrink in size and become a compact crossover (currently still mid-size), it’s expected it’ll start playing more important role for GMC. At least in terms of total sales.
Cadillac CT6 PHEV
Unlike the conventional Cadillac CT6’s which is made at the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant, the hybrid models are still being imported – from China. For an American luxury car built in Jinqiao, China, the CT6 PHEV sure raises some eyebrows. However, the hybrid CT6 still sports 43% American content which is a premium figure considering all of those parts have to make their way back in container ships as assembled products.
Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra
GM’s mechanical full-size pickup twins, the Silverado and Sierra, have sold close to 800,000 units combined last year (575,000 and 222,000 respectively). That’s mighty close to the Ford F-150’s 820,000 units. Unlike the most popular American vehicle in history, however, large quantities of Silverados and Sierras come from abroad. From GM’s Silao, Mexico plant, to be more precise. Out of those 575,000 units, 222,000 Crew Cab Silverados come from south of the border. At the same time, 99,000 Crew Cab Sierras (out of 222,000 total) also come from Silao. Furthermore, GM’s full-size pickups only consist of 38% domestic parts which is well below average.
The Dodge Journey is another American in theory but Mexican in practice vehicle from this list. With only 27% domestic content, this mid-size crossover is definitely more Mexican than American. The Dodge Journey even appears as a rebadged model in Fiat‘s own lineup. Both the Journey and Fiat Freemont, however, are built at the same site. At the Mexican Toluca Car Assembly.
Yet another amigo from down south – the Lincoln MKZ hails from Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly in Hermosillo, Sonora. This mid-size luxury sedan sells around 30,000 units a year but they only have 25% domestic content. It’s by no means an American car, but its main market and badge sure are American.
Although large part of Ford Fusions were built in Flat Rock, Michigan until last year, most of them were assembled alongside the Lincoln MKZ, in Hermosillo, Mexico. With Fusion’s sales dwindling in recent years, Blue Oval came to a conclusion that the Mexican-built mid-size sedans are enough to feed the entire North American continent’s appetite. Like their more luxurious corporate sibling, the Ford Fusion too sports only 25% domestic content.
Cute ute that’s being assembled in Italy, Brazil and China sports only 22% American and Canadian content. That’s understandable since the subcompact crossover is Jeep‘s very first nameplate assembled exclusively abroad. If the demand for smallest of Jeep’s products continues to grow, it might, at one point, come to one of their U.S. plants as well.
Ford Focus RS
And, while the conventional Ford Focus sports only 40% domestic parts, the high performance RS models have even less. Built in Saarlouis, Germany, the Focus RS has only 15% American content. At least it compensates with ample of power and superb driving capabilities. Still, although American in name, the Ford Focus RS is more of an import.
The most advanced American supercar to date is assembled at a plant in Markham, Ontario, in Canada. Furthermore, it’s built using only 10% American and Canadian content. Most of the supercar has been built using lightweight composite materials like carbon fiber, and it’s obvious these come from abroad. It may be called the most advanced modern American car, but is the Ford GT really American-made?
Ford Transit Connect
Ford’s Transit Connect isn’t a vehicle you’ll often encounter on the U.S. roads. The Focus-based panel van is almost entirely European product you’ll most likely find in smaller companies’ fleets. It’s being assembled in Almussafes, Spain, close to Valencia. With only 10% American and 45% Spanish content, it’s evident that other countries play a role in Transit Connect’s assembly process too. That way, the transmission comes from France, while the strongest available 2.5L Duratec four cylinder gets shipped in from Mexico.
The popular Blue Oval subcompact is being built pretty much everywhere else, besides in the U.S. American models are, as you can imagine, assembled in Mexican Cuautitlán Izcalli plant. Needless to say, the Fiesta only sports 7% domestic content which makes it one of the least American, American cars. At least it’s cheap, starting at around $13,500.
The Chevrolet Trax is still fresh, hailing from the 2013 model year. This subcompact crossover is being imported from Mexico and South Korea, while it’s also being assembled in China. And, while San Luis Potosí’s plant Trax scores a 55% domestic content scpre, one coming out of Bupyeong-gu, Incheon only sports 5% of American parts. Yes, you read it right. Almost everything in it is Korean apart from some 19% of plastic content from China.
Spark isn’t actually an original GM vehicle. GM inherited it when they bought the South Korean manufacturer Daewoo some 15 years ago. What was once the Daewoo Matiz, has, however, been named the Spark since 2010 model year. The name change didn’t magically boost up the amount of American and Canadian content in the city car. How can an American vehicle be called American with only 2% of American content? Yet, it’s available stateside starting from $13,000.
It’s fitting that Buick and Chevy should have the most and least American made cars. And, while the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave share the top spot among vehicles with most domestic content, the above mentioned Chevy Spark and Buick Envision do the opposite. This entirely Chinese designed, developed and built compact crossover consists of only 2% American/Canadian content. It may be donning the Tri-Shield badge, but it definitely doesn’t belong among other American cars.