As the author of “How Americans Can Buy American,” I get a lot of emails (almost daily it seems) asking specific questions about certain products and if they can be found made in the USA.
So, I decided to devote an article to at least some of these questions for all to see.
Here are just a few of the most frequently asked questions that I receive:
Question: Which American cars have the highest domestic-parts content?
Answer: According to a Cars.com, relying on information from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the top 10 models are listed below for 2009, which is the latest information I can find. You’ll notice that six of the top seven nameplates are American.
Make/Model, Domestic-parts content, Assembly location
Ford Taurus – 90 percent – Chicago, Ill.
Lincoln MKS – 85 percent – Chicago, Ill.
Toyota Sienna – 85 percent – Princeton, Ind.
GMC Savana 1500 – 82 percent- Wentzville, Mo.
Chevrolet Express 1500 – 82 percent – Wentzville, Mo.
Buick Lucerne – 81 percent – Detroit, Mich.
Chevrolet Malibu – 80 percent – Kansas City, Kan.
Honda Odyssey – 80 percent – Lincoln, Ala.
Toyota Avalon – 80 percent – Georgetown, Ky.
Toyota Tundra – 80 percent – San Antonio, Texas
Toyota Venza – 80 percent – Georgetown, Ky.
For 2010, production of the Buick LaCrosse was moved from Ontario, Canada, to Kansas City, Kan., which means another American nameplate would have bumped a foreign nameplate (the Toyota Venza) from the list. Also, other American cars built in Canada have high domestic-parts content. Cars.com admits the Chevrolet Impala, although assembled in Canada, comes in at 85 percent (another chart-topping entry).
Question: Is it possible to buy an American-built computer?
Answer: Yes. I proudly own a Systemax computer, and you can check them out at Systemaxpc.com.
Admittedly, a lot of the parts come from foreign locations, although you may be lucky enough to get your RAM or motherboard made in USA. Smaller computer companies don’t have the corporate horsepower to demand bigger companies like Intel supply RAM to them from only domestic factories and restrict the foreign deliveries. Systemax technical support is also in America, so there won’t be any language barriers should you need to address their staff with any questions.
Question: Are there any TVs still made in USA?
Answer: No. A few years ago, Olevia made LCD TVs here, but the parent company went bankrupt. My advice is to check out Vizio, which is an American company based in California. Their TVs may be imported just like every other brand, but the important distinction is that the company is based in the U.S. and their TVs are designed by American engineers in America. I think we can all agree, we don’t need just American jobs in manufacturing, but we need all types of American jobs in all types of American industries and fields.
Supporting American companies in a field flooded with foreign-owned firms is the right step to take in a “Buy American” strategy. If the company becomes profitable enough (Vizio is known for high quality and competitive pricing) they may eventually be swayed to move their production back to the U.S. Such corporate responsibility influences won’t and can’t work for foreign companies like Sony, Panasonic, etc.
They can only work for American companies since they are based here. American companies like IBM have been pressured before to hire more American workers in an industry heavily prone to outsourcing. So let’s support the American company, and then at some point we may be able to go to that company and say, “Look, you’re an American company, and we are the American people. We are on the same team. We want to support an American company, but we would be so much more motivated to do so if you would move more of your production back to the United States.”
But for this strategy to work, the American company must be profitable first, which means we need to be on record as already supporting them since they are American owned.
Question: Are there any toasters or toaster ovens made in the USA?
Answer: No. This may be the most frequent question I am asked. My advice: Start a business making toasters and toaster ovens, and you’ll have the “patriotic American” market cornered for yourself alone.
Question: Are there any American-made appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers?
Answer: Yes. My Whirlpool refrigerator (bought three years ago) is made in USA, and touts a sticker inside that proudly proclaims just that. Whirlpool is the first company I would consider for any appliance purchase, since they employ more Americans than any other appliance maker. But as with any other appliance manufacturer, they offer imported models as well, so be careful and check the labels.
In addition to dishwashers and refrigerators, Whirlpool also makes washing machines, trash compactors and icemakers here as well. In September last year, Whirlpool detailed plans on a new factory in Cleveland, Tenn., that will be part of a $300 million plan to upgrade domestic manufacturing plants.
Also, GE is moving jobs from China back to the United States for their new high-efficiency hot water heaters and front-load washers and dryers. The announcement by General Electric detailed a $1 billion investment and nearly 1,300 new American jobs by 2014.
Question: Are there any bicycles still made in America?
Answer: Yes. For the high-end enthusiast, try Trek (I own an American-made Trek 1200). For the lower end (starting at $319.00) check out Worksman Cycles. Note: If you’re looking for a cheap, American-made bicycle for your child for around $100.00, you’re not going to find it.
Question: What about American-made toys?
Answer: I have an extensive list of American-made toys and toy companies posted online. It’s a lot easier to buy American-made toys than you might think.
This is just a partial list of frequently asked questions, and I can see that I’ll probably write a follow-up article answering more frequently asked questions in the future. I will also be adding a FAQ link to my website HowtoBuyAmerican.com, so check back often.
The bottom line is that it’s easier to spend your bottom dollar on American products than most are led to believe. And if there isn’t a particular product made in America that you happen to be looking for, such as a toaster or toaster oven, you know what to do. Break ground on that American toaster oven factory, and you’ll have an increasing and sizeable percentage of American consumers who want to buy American behind you and beating on your door to buy your American-made product.