Do Car Buyers Care About 'Made in America?'
DETROIT (TheStreet) -- The Independence Day holiday appears to infuse some number of car buyers with the inclination to buy an American-made car, even though it remains difficult to define exactly what is an American-made car.
A recent survey by TrueCar.com showed that the Detroit Three produced eight of the top 10 vehicles purchased between June 27 and July 10 in 2011, an indication that the holiday inspires patriotic shopping trends. But a survey by Cars.com found that only 23% of U.S. car buyers limit themselves to "American-made" vehicles when car shopping.
Our own anecdotal survey said that half of U.S. car buyers want to buy a vehicle produced by the Detroit Three, while the other half wants to buy a vehicle as long as it is not produced by the Detroit Three. These two types of car buyers are typically married to one another.
In any case, the criteria regarding "American-made" remains conflicted. While a survey by Cars.com indicated that the "most American" car is the Toyota Camry, a list based on the American Automobile Labeling Act said it's the Toyota Avalon.
Regarding the buyers, "last year around the Fourth of July the American new car buyer chose to purchase vehicles that were built in the USA or had an American nameplate," said TrueCar analyst Kristen Andersson, in a prepared statement. "Made in the USA is a strong statement that resonates with consumers."
The Cars.com survey indicated that 23% of U.S. car buyers limit themselves to American vehicles, and of those 45% would buy a vehicle produced by a foreign automaker if they knew the vehicle was assembled in the U.S.
Conversely, 7% of U.S. car buyers consider only vehicles made by foreign manufacturers. Of those, 61% would consider a vehicle made by one of the Detroit Three if they thought the quality was better than it has been.
Regarding the vehicles, the 2012 list of the top 10 Most American Cars, compiled by Cars.com for its annual American Made Index, ranked the Toyota (TM) Camry as the most American car for the fourth consecutive year.
The Cars.com index considers not just the hometown of the manufacturer, but also domestic parts content and final assembly point of the vehicles, as well as a controversial aspect: the quantity of U.S. sales. By this measure, Camry benefits because it is not only produced in the U.S. but also is the best-selling car in the U.S., so that production employs a relatively large number of U.S. workers.