Talking Trucks Tuesdays: Made in America?

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Editor's note: We are starting a new weekly column in which we'll discuss some of the more provocative topics in the pickup truck world and we want you to chime in.

Talking Trucks Tuesdays will look at many of the issues surrounding the pickup truck side of the auto industry. The intention is to spark healthy, mature debate among our readers about the topics that drive the manufacturers.

Naturally, we want to know what you think about the information we deliver and the questions posed. We encourage you to share your observations and opinions in the comments section below.

By G. R. Whale

Vehicle production is one of the hot election-year topics and it brings the "made in America" question to the forefront. Several full-size pickup trucks have final assembly in the U.S., including the Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra and Ford F-150, while others, like Chevrolet and GMC half-ton crew cabs and some Ram trucks, are assembled in Mexico. Where parts and vehicles are made can affect company profits, employment, trade agreements, production logistics, politics and overall production just to name a few issues.

Is "made in America" important to you, and if so, how do you define it? Does the entire truck have to be manufactured and assembled in the U.S. or does "final assembly" in the U.S. suffice? Or does made in North America (which encompasses Canada, the U.S. and Mexico) mean domestic to you? Note that the 1992 American Automobile Labeling Act treats both U.S. and Canada as "domestic."

For a vehicle to qualify for the 2016 American-Made Index, 75 percent of its content had to be made in the U.S.; for 2016 just eight vehicles qualified and none were pickup trucks. In fact, the only "domestic" nameplates represented were the Buick Enclave, the Chevrolet Traverse and the GMC Acadia, a trio of GM SUVs all based off the same platform. The last time pickup trucks made the AMI list was 2014, when the F-150 came in first, the Toyota Tundra place fifth and the Honda Ridgeline eighth.

Here's our question: Does it make a difference if your pickup is designed in Detroit, has an Italian engine and German transmission, or is assembled in Mexico? What if the company is headquartered in England?

Would a pickup's point of final assembly, source of parts or where the money goes sway your next buying decision, or would you simply choose what you consider to be the best pickup for your needs? photo by Mark Williams



Oooh, This is gonna ruffle some feathers. LOL

Have you considered changing the format of the comments section? See autoblog for ideas. Much more likely to see a mature and healthy debate if you change the format.

It should make a difference. A little
esprit de corps towards the homeland doesn't hurt.

A friend of mine gives me heck about buying a Ram Quad Cab built in Warren, Mich. with a Mexican hemi engine. His GMC crew cab was built in Mexico but has a US built engine. What's the difference? Parts of both trucks were built in Mexico.

I always prefer made in america, because it usually translates to better quality and provides Americans jobs. But with vehicles american-made has been negative to quality. Probably because of unions. Unions dmakeo some good, but make it harder to get rid of bad workers. And they make the work much less efficient. When it comes to trucks i don't even consider where it is made. Quality and price is all that matters. Now where it is made doesn't affect quality as much because robots seem to do most of the important work anyways. When it comes to tools for my farm american made is almost always superior and i always prefer to know where they are made. Especially certain types of products. Chinese rubber is almost always terrible. Same with cast iron. And some other materials. With that said american made isn't as good as it used to be. I've bought some American made products at an american made price recently that seemed like chinese quality. I am always willing to pay more for american made IF and only if it is better quality.

I have owned American, Japanese and German vehicles. Some trucks, some cars and an SUV. Overall quality and reliability between them all was more-or-less consistent. Unfortunately the worst I owned was a bought as new "American" sedan. There were mechanical design ques that I found questionable and made the vehicle very hard to work on. After having to take the vehicle to a dealer far too often (it was under warranty), it was sold for a Japanese car which so far is better in every way.

Personally I think that no matter where a car is made, sometimes they will make a lemon for whatever reason. Does my experience with that American sedan I sold for a Japanese one sour my taste for that manufacturer? No. I probably will buy from them again at a later date... after I beat my current truck into the ground after finishing up making it a prerunner.

Show me why a manufacture's vehicle is better than another. Show me facts. Don't give me someone else's opinion why their vehicle is not as good as what you are trying to sell. My gut, eyes and heart will tell me which one "looks prettier" for one reason or another inside or out.

We are a global economy. Every manufacturer relies on some other country for some reason these days. Personally? I don't care where a vehicle is made. If a company consistently kicks out winners, they will sell and flourish. If not... back to the drawing board until they come up with a product that the public wants to buy.

The issue of "American Made" is getting silly. Parts come for all over the world; assembly may be in Mexico or Canada; and home offices may be in Detroit. Go figure.

The Kogod Institute in Chicago had worked out a method for calculating how much a vehicle is American Made. See link:

If I remember, vehicles like the Chevy Corvette and Ford F-150 pickup rank high; the Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 are lower in percent "American Made". But no vehicle is purely "American Made" any more.


No matter where some of the parts are built, I will always consider RAM, Ford, and GM American trucks. Just like how I consider Toyota, Nissan, and Honda trucks Japanise despite some of them being "built in America" In the end, I don't care for the saying, I judge the truck's title based on where it's parent company is from. :-)

Jesse - - -

So, if GM makes a Buick in China (which it does), --- in collaboration with its required Chinese affiliate --- but it is imported into the USA (which it is), is that vehicle "American Made"?


GM trucks are designed in Europe, hence the square wheel wells. Makes it harder to put larger tires on them.
I bought a Japanese owned company truck once, my dad would not let me park it in the driveway as he fought against them and lost friends to them. So if it is GM, Ram, Jeep, or Ford I am good with that....but get rid of the square wheel wells GM.. come on....

I'll take my Texan made Tundra, with the US Built 5.7 engine and US built 6 speed transmission employing hard working Americans.

Regardless of the brand, I think it is important to support the American workers, AS LONG, as the product isn't complete junk. If a vehicle is made in America but is crap, then I will not even consider that vehicle.

I know the American made (Michigan) Silverado 2500HD Farm truck has been much more reliable and the fit and finish is much better than then Mexican made HD I had prior.

The Chevrolet Colorado has a standard 32" tire on the Z71 package. My buddy found out that in order for him to put a 35" tire on it he would have to lift it 6 inches because of the square wheel wells. If you know anything about lifts you would know 6" will bring a host of issues and problems and be very expensive. He called rough country and they said he could do a 3" lift plus a lot of trimming and body work.

He gave up and bought a used Frontier instead. Thanks GM.

I've have/had Mexican built GM'S and a Ram and was not happy with overall build quality. The Warren MI built 2012 Ram was very well put together. I don't know that an American built Ford would meet or exceed my expectations but I'm leaning towards it for my next purchase. The Tundra was well built too although still needed repairs. It is an interesting topic. I just can't drop my money on a brand anymore. I just want a well built truck regardless of what it is or where it's built.

My Ranger has an engine from Germany, a transmission from Japan, and was assembled at the Twin Cities plant in MN. My Fusion has an engine from the UK, transmission from Germany, and was assembled in Mexico. The wife's Civic was assembled in Ohio. All vehicles' parts content was sourced from a highly interwoven and complex global supply chain. Both Ford and Honda are publicly traded, with shareholders around the world. Globalization has made the concept of "American made" moot, and ongoing debates on its validity or value are just silly and a complete waste of time.

Many products that are Made In America are assembled from foreign components. This past Spring I bought a new Troy-Bilt rear engine riding mower which was made in America but the 10 hp OHV engine was made in China. My lawn mower repairman, who sold me the mower told me that the spin on oil filters for Briggs and Kohler engines do not fit this engine. My lawn mower mechanic told me that Troy-Bilt has been using Chinese engines on many of their power equipment and that this engine has been used for a number of years on this model and is a very good engine. I have bought several pieces of out door equipment including a new power washer made in the US from foreign components. It is very hard to get any product that doesn't have foreign components, but that is part of a Global Economy.

"Made in America content" means almost nothing to me any more. While I prefer the American brands, a vehicle's practicality for MY purposes trumps any "Made in America" label.

The average American truck has become far too large to be practical as a daily driver any more. The vast majority of even the mid-sized trucks are too large for my needs, though remain an open consideration for my next vehicle purchase.

What I want is something more along the ride height and comfort of Equinox or Traverse with an open four-foot+ bed with AWD and honestly there are very, very few pickups in this size range. After driving my '97 Ranger for a year, even getting into my '08 Wrangler feels strange and way too tall. That Wrangler is now on the family's 'chopping block', ready to be traded for something that rides lower and offers more practicality while still giving me serious foul-weather ability.

"The Chevrolet Colorado has a standard 32" tire on the Z71 package. My buddy found out that in order for him to put a 35" tire on it he would have to lift it 6 inches because of the square wheel wells."

I think someone was lying to him. If 32" wheels work well for him now, he shouldn't need more than 3" of lift UNLESS he intents to go for extreme off-roading. A 3" lift doesn't necessarily mean you have to add 6" of travel to the suspension. I've got 32" tires on my off-roader and was told I'd only need a 2" lift to fit 35s with no extra modification required.

I agree with you. It seems 6" is too much to run 35x12.5r17 but apparently because of the square wheel wells he would have articulation issues going through ditches. I can't figure out the reasoning for square wheel wells either

I see what you did there Mark,

You won't take those blue glasses off until this site is dead.

A lot of GM and Ram trucks are assembled in the US but word spin is your M.O.

Anyone that says it doesn't matter must have a good job. but, for those of us who have had to hunt for work or relocate, US manufacturing does matter. I bought a gmc assembled in Indiana with 60% domestic parts, US motor and trans. It was the best I could find big three wise. Your dollar is your most powerful vote. BUY AMERICAN, or your job is next to go. Global economy, then Global government. You can keep your Globalism outside of America.


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It changes my opinion of the vehicle and the company in general but almost certainly won't stop me from buying the truck I need at the end of the day. My truck is my livelihood, and I will buy the one I need that I can afford, regardless of where the pieces are made. However that wouldn't stop me from regarding the manufacturers and politicians as sellouts from moving business out of the country at the expense of quality, the economy, and American pride. If my truck was a secondary vehicle not driven daily it would be a pre-smog classic and made of 100% American parts.

The love of money is the root of all the junk being sold in the world today. It is very hard to find anything , wether it be a tool, clothes, lawnmower or a vehicle that is built with quality in mind. ONE WORLD, ONE GOVERNMENT!!!!! Doesnt matter if you like where your truck is made because nothing can stop the NEW WORLD ORDER. Everything is happening the way the scriptures said it would happen.

I love my ford fusion because it was made in mexico

I would prefer American made when possible but at the end of the day;

I will buy the vehicle that best suits my needs/budget & personal taste...we'll maybe with the exception of RAM trucks & shaky GOVT motor trucks; they will need to offer something compelling enough to make me switch over...

GM guys are needing 4-6" lifts to fit 35s are they still rub either the bumper or rear fender even with trimming.

Meanwhile Ford, Ram and Toyota can fit 35" tires on a 3" lift all day. Pretty sad for those square wheel wells.

Ford Transits are made in Turkey,so Ford isn't American judging by Mr.Williams words, right !

Posted by: Eric | Sep 20, 2016 3:36:31 PM

What are you talking about. The transit is built here in the states.

The Kogod Institute in Chicago had worked out a method for calculating how much a vehicle is American Made. See link:

Posted by: NMGOM | Sep 20, 2016 10:22:24 AM

The Kogod Annual report is a much more accurate and balanced index.

Their methodology is a lot more in-depth:

Profit Margin. This was measured based on the location of an automaker’s headquarters. If an automaker’s global headquarters is located in the US, the model receives a 6. If it is not, it receives a 0. The assumption here is that (on average), 6% of a vehicle’s value is profit margin, so if it is a U.S. automaker, the profits remain in the country.

Labor. This category considers where the car is assembled. If a model is assembled in the US, it receives a 6. If not, the model receives a 0. We assume that approximately 6% of the vehicle’s value is labor content.

Research and Development (R&D). This category looks at the location of a car’s R&D activities. If the model is a product of a US company, it receives a 6. If it is the product of a foreign company but is assembled in the U.S. it receives a 3; if it is a foreign import it receives a 1.

Inventory, Capital and other expenses. If assembly occurs in the US, the model receives an 11; if not, it receives a 0.

Engine. If the engine is produced in the US, the model receives a 14; if not it receives a 0.

Transmission. If the transmission is produced in the US, the model receives a 7; if not it receives a 0.

Body, Chassis, and Electrical Components. 50 % of a vehicle’s score is assigned to this category. The AALA percentage is divided into two to derive this score.

@Eric. You clearly don't work in the auto industry and can't even do simple research. Tacoma's will never all be built in Mexico and Tundra's are not ever slated to be built there. Honda Fit cars built in China do not come to the US. All Fit production for the North American market is done in Mexivo. You post is so full of errors it's hardly worth replying too

My thought is always buy best rated American made, plus looks play a part along with quality. BUT... even thought a number of Japanese & China vehicles "made in USA", their $$$ go back to their home country. I want the $$$ to stay in the USA. So if I have the option, I'll buy products where the headquarters is in the USA. My .02

I only buy Chevys dont know where its made and dont care,was always satisfied with their reliability...
Had Camaros,Trans ams,Chevy GMC trucks and Monte carlos,,anything with a V8 motor and rear wheel drive was always a good runner..

Only things I dislike is the huge amount of plastics inside the cabin..and unecesary krapola like air bags..

I dont buy Apple computers,or their phones,products as that company hq is someplace offshore so it doesnt pay any taxes here even though making billions of $$

In the end it doesn't matter.
To the guy who only buys GM, you're missing out on the "better" stuff dude.
GM trucks are behind Ford and RAM as an overall package you would know that if you go out and try them.

Back in '11 if felt good to buy my Tundra with 75% US parts content. After 4 1/2 years of ownership and more than a dozen trips to the dealership for warranty work, buy American has a different meaning to me now...

Gave up on GM and Ford, thought about a Tundra, couldn't do it. So, As long as I am buying a Ram, I don't care where it is built.

All the Jeeps have square wheel wells, best known as a great off road vehicle, so why all the talk about GM and square wheel well design? It is part of the GM truck design, has been for 25 plus years, one way of being different from Ford and Fiat trucks. 2nd and third Gen Dodge came with square wheel wells , and are still one of the better looking Ram vehicles

I look at final assembly, and then part content. If it's made in USA with mostly USA components, then that's good enough for me, seeing how there's nothing 100% USA made.

I'd also pick a Japanese brand's pickup assembled in the USA over an American brand's pickup made in Mexico - which one provides more jobs to American workers like me?

Being a Ford guy, when I took the Woman car shopping, we went for the Ford Focus, with Fort Wayne final assembly. The upscale Fusion and cheaper Fiesta are made in Mexico, so I ruled them out. If the Focus were made in Mexico, we'd have left and gone to the Toyota dealer. American labor (union or not) means more to me than a brand.

I'd considered trading in my Dearborn Truck Plant F-150 for a RAM 2500, but I simply cannot get past the foreign assembly, even if the engine is American. There's enough margin in pickups for them to cover American wages - look at the pricing between USA and MX products. They're damned near the same. They screw the American worker for a few more bucks.

GM guys are needing 4-6" lifts to fit 35s are they still rub either the bumper or rear fender even with trimming.

Meanwhile Ford, Ram and Toyota can fit 35" tires on a 3" lift all day. Pretty sad for those square wheel wells.

Posted by: john | Sep 20, 2016 4:12:17 PM

So that's why the lifted GMs look so much better.

We also went shopping not for a truck but for a new car for the wife, tried them all in the smaller hatchback format. Honda not bad, Kia so/so, Hyundai not bad, Ford - plastic and not solid, VW pretty solid, then a Mazda. Bought the Mazda-solid, good paint and fit and finish very good, goes good and corners like a slot car, and the new CX9....WOW. Never thought we would go Mazda but everyone who has ridden with us is very impressed and say they will definitely look there for a next car. Neighbors have Focus, Journeys and came over and looked at ours, let them drive it and they both said they never thought of Mazda but sure would next time.

Mitsubishi Trucks in Japan has a MDT going onto a HDT. It is called the " Fighter" Somehow it would get few sales in the US although the trucks are formidable.

Posted by: john | Sep 20, 2016 4:12:17 PM
So that's why the lifted GMs look so much better.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Sep 20, 2016 9:15:44 PM

@ GMSSUCKS; actually you might think they look better ....

Posted by: Lionel | Sep 20, 2016 10:37:12 PM

It is a universally accepted fact that the GM twins look better, particularly the GMC Sierra Denali. Lionel, why fight it.

Yes, it matters to me. I want built in America, PERIOD! I want the US labor force to benefit by my purchase, not the corporate headquarters. Take Ford for example. If an F-150 is built in Mexico but the money funnels back in the US to corporate. Who benefits? Now, if Nissan builds in the US and funnels profits back to Japan, who benefits?

I always scratch my head when someone supports a US corporation benefiting and not its labor force.

@ Budsy47... I agree with you in regards to Mazda, many car mags have said Mazda should be taken serious, good vehicles. And do you know who owns (think still does) them? FORD.. they did own something like ~ 35% stake in them. Not sure if all still true % wise.

No, it is NOT universally accepted. Get a life.

To the guy who stated it is easier to get 6" of lift from a Frontier. How will you do this? Also, a Colorado has better clearance from the start.

As countries globalize the "where was my vehicle made" become less relevant.

It seems the vehicle manufacturers are going through a period of quicker rationalization. The world is ending up with centers of vehicle assembly.

Components can be sourced and moved around the world to any location quite easily.

People talk of the American worker, soon to be robot. This comes at a cost as well to the consumer. Some people are prepared to pay extra money for a vehicle to be manufactured in the US vs an import. The people who don't care where their vehicle is manufactured should be catered for as well and not forced into buying "American Made".

Others should not be allowed to determine what country your vehicle comes from.

With NAFTA I really don't think this is such a huge issue with pickups as not many other countries have full size pickups. As Mexico become richer it will become less dependent on handouts and special deals from other countries. A richer Mexico will also be an incentive for Mexicans to stay in Mexico and work.

This is a none issue. I think the title should be "What percentage of my Pickup would I like to be American".

Would love to have every vehicle sold here made entirely in the USA. Since that has been screwed sideways by NAFTA & Fast Track it makes it hard. I tend to look at the countries who sell here to see if their markets are open to US products without tariffs. The Japanese sold imports here without impunity for 30 years before their own economy and currency manipulation stopped working. Bottom line, if the company is USA based like Ford Chrysler & General Motors, I will only buy them. Those that buy Toyota's, Honda's Nissans ect send United States cash overseas and out of this country. You can't import to Asia, markets are closed to US vehicles. Anyone who buys a Toyota, Honda, Nissan is a traitor the the USA regardless of content.

Here in Pennsylvania in a small population Elk County there are over 800 manufacturing job openings that go unfilled cause nobody applies for them.
Americans don't want to work and there are serious labor shortages all over the country.

Americans don't want to work and there are serious labor shortages all over the country.

Posted by: BankruptinPA | Sep 21, 2016 2:48:52 AM

Agreed. They want to get paid top dollar for doing as little as possible. Sure there are many hard working people but the unions pretty much allow people to do very little for good wages. This attitude spreads like wild fire and it is hard to control. Get rid of unions and make people work for their money with no govt handouts (tax payer) you will see a change in peoplesome attitudes on work ethic.

American made is fine but I don't care about lot about American made. You figure there is a lot of American in each vehicle. Transport, sales, after sales service, BMW does a good job with non union workers in their American assembly plants. They take pride in their work.

Made in the USA!... it sounds so good, feels soooo good.

As our economy shifts from an industrial/manufacturing base to a service base (as it shifted from agriculturally based to manufacturing) there are many pros and cons, socially, economically, emotionally, ect...

With the world shrinking and the global nature of the economy taking a larger and larger role in local economic decisions we see more and more diversification in where things are sourced from and assembled at. Even more important is the ownership of the product/corporation as it ultimately decides where/how the funds it collects are spent. RAM guys here are FINE with going bankrupt and being foreign owned (have been for decades now). GM fans are FINE with going bankrupt and taking gov money to continue on.

These issues of ownership/corporate conduct/success/failure as a company are so much more black and white and cut and dry than "well my nut was made in Mexico but my bolt is made in Canada and there was an American that put them so together so my truck is MexCanAm and since im American the MexCan is silent and the AM part is pronounced AMERICAN and your truck is more MEX or CAN."

The other thing is one should simply buy the best product one can afford for ones needs. Regardless of who or where it is made. This rewards the companies doing well and punishes those doing badly thus motivating those with excellence to continue and those doing badly to change. Blind consumer loyalty only hurts the consumer and allows bad corporate behavior to continue. I always look at everything out there and drive about half of the offerings before making my decision and while im not often surprised there are occasions where I am. If that happens also be "Made in the USA" then that's a real bonus but I don't buy the cake the icing.

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