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Old 05-02-2009, 08:02 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default If buying American is your preference, check the first digit of the VIN




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As we witness automotive history being made via corporate bankruptcies and government bailouts, the nation is polarized over whether to be supportive or critical of American car brands. We at Up to Speed see it in your comments, and results from a recent study by Gallup show a substantial jump in consumer interest for American car brands. This is all well and good while the crisis continues, but the truth is that there are fewer American car brands in existence than ever before. History has recorded nearly 2,000 American brands since the industry's inception, but the recent loss of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer leave only 10 truly American brands in the mix: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC trucks.

So, if we purchase American cars, are we helping our own countrymen? What about foreign cars built in the U.S.? How do we know the difference? Kelley Blue Book's Classic Car Guide Editor Phil Skinner helped us ponder these questions and said that the answer lies right on your car's dashboard in the 17-digit number called the Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN). Actually, the truth lies in the very first number (or letter) of the VIN.

Phil explains, "A #1 represents the USA, but the #4 and #5 usually mean the car was made in another country. A #2 represents Canada, while #3 is from Mexico. Letters are also used to identify where the car is from, such as "J" for Japan, "K" for Korea, "W" for Germany, "S" for England and "Y" for Sweden."

"Many cars that you think were built in the USA might have come from our great northern neighbor, Canada, or down south in Mexico. While it might wear a badge that says Ford or Chevrolet, there is a chance the car came out of a USA-based assembly plant owned by a foreign company," Skinner says. "While the Ford Crown Victoria has been discontinued, its brother, the Mercury Grand Marquis, is still being produced, but not from a factory in Detroit -- it's made in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada."

Other current models with American brand names have actually been assembled in other countries:
Buick Lacrosse, Canada
Chevrolet HHR, Mexico
Chevrolet Aveo, Korea
Chevrolet Impala, Canada
Chrysler PT Cruiser, Mexico
Chrysler 300, Canada
Dodge Charger and Challenger, Canada
Ford Fusion, Mexico
Ford Flex, Canada
Lincoln MKX and Town Car, Canada
Mercury Grand Marquis, Canada
Mercury Milan, Mexico

As for cars with “foreign” brand names, Phil says many are actually built in the United States, including the Toyota Camry and Avalon, built in Georgetown, Ky.; BMW's Z4, built in Spartanburg, S.C.; and the Honda Element and Accord, built in East Liberty, Ill. (Odyssey is built in an assembly plant in Troy, Ohio).

"President Obama recently challenged the American public that if they were thinking 'about buying a new car, I hope it will be an American car,' ” Skinner says. "But sometimes we might think we are supporting our homeland when in fact we are contributing to the coffers of companies abroad."
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/upto...git-first.html
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:15 AM   #2
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle...#Country_codes

Above is a quick reference to show where the vehicle was assembled based on the first 2 digits.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:30 AM   #3
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The first two characters identify the manufacturer's country of origin, not where the car was made.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by stewb View Post
The first two characters identify the manufacturer's country of origin, not where the car was made.
Wrong................
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Old 05-02-2009, 11:00 AM   #5
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As for cars with “foreign” brand names, Phil says many are actually built in the United States, including the Toyota Camry and Avalon, built in Georgetown, Ky.; BMW's Z4, built in Spartanburg, S.C.; and the Honda Element and Accord, built in East Liberty, Ill. (Odyssey is built in an assembly plant in Troy, Ohio).
Also wrong. The Z4 is going to now be built in Germany with the newest generation. AFAIK, Spartanburg will only be building the X-series.
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Old 05-02-2009, 12:26 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by stewb View Post
The first two characters identify the manufacturer's country of origin, not where the car was made.
No. Go on autotrader and look up a Toyota Camry. The first digit on the listed VIN will match the "US" characters. Then look up a Toyota 4Runner. It will start with a J. You can do the same for any Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, etc. that manufactures in the US and abroad.

Look at the VIN numbers listed in the following Silverado ads.

Canada built Silverado

Mexico built Silverado

USA built Silverado

Note that they start with 2, 3, and 1 VIN numbers while being an American nameplate. Those just happened to be the first 3 results from a random Autotrader search.

Last edited by quentinberg007; 05-02-2009 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 05-02-2009, 03:38 PM   #7
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The VIN first digit only identifies the location of final assembly. If 100% of the parts came over on boats from China & Japan, would you still call it an American car because it was misassembled in Michigan by some overpaid UAW hacks and thus received a "1"?
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Old 05-02-2009, 04:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Captain Ned View Post
The VIN first digit only identifies the location of final assembly. If 100% of the parts came over on boats from China & Japan, would you still call it an American car because it was misassembled in Michigan by some overpaid UAW hacks and thus received a "1"?
They have domestic content on the window stickers. This is generally pretty accurate representation of where the materials and subassemblies for the vehicle come from.
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:34 PM   #9
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"But sometimes we might think we are supporting our homeland when in fact we are contributing to the coffers of companies abroad."
This statement makes no sense to me. If you by a Chevy or Ford, regardless of where it was built, you are "supporting" an American company. You may not be supporting American blue collar workers, but certainly the company. Likewise with the "foreign" cars made in the US, you are supporting assembly line workers in the US, but the company benefitting is not on US soil.
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Captain Ned View Post
The VIN first digit only identifies the location of final assembly. If 100% of the parts came over on boats from China & Japan, would you still call it an American car because it was misassembled in Michigan by some overpaid UAW hacks and thus received a "1"?
Where are you finding "location of final assembly" documented, other than where Quentinberg illustrates it below?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MD04WRX View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by stewb View Post
The first two characters identify the manufacturer's country of origin, not where the car was made.
Wrong................
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle...#Country_codes
Quote:
The first character of the WMI is the region in which the manufacturer is located.
Are you stating that the article is incorrect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by quentinberg007 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by stewb View Post
The first two characters identify the manufacturer's country of origin, not where the car was made.
No. Go on autotrader and look up a Toyota Camry. The first digit on the listed VIN will match the "US" characters. Then look up a Toyota 4Runner. It will start with a J. You can do the same for any Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, etc. that manufactures in the US and abroad.

Look at the VIN numbers listed in the following Silverado ads.

Canada built Silverado

Mexico built Silverado

USA built Silverado

Note that they start with 2, 3, and 1 VIN numbers while being an American nameplate. Those just happened to be the first 3 results from a random Autotrader search.
True for those cars, but the VIN for a 2008 MINI Cooper S starts with WM. It is manufactured in Cowley, Oxford, UK--not in Germany (WM).
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...e&rdpage=thumb
Therefore on the MINI the first two characters denote the manufacturer's country of origin rather than the car's country of origin.
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by rmbrady View Post
This statement makes no sense to me. If you by a Chevy or Ford, regardless of where it was built, you are "supporting" an American company. You may not be supporting American blue collar workers, but certainly the company. Likewise with the "foreign" cars made in the US, you are supporting assembly line workers in the US, but the company benefitting is not on US soil.
So when Ford brings the Euro Focus to USA, are you supporting an American company when you buy that? Because last I checked the platform is engineered in Europe and Japan, the car is developed in Europe ...


RE: the MINI vin, I think I remember seeing somewhere that the US bound MINIs, while built in UK, were actually exported via Germany and as such BMW were playing some funny businesses with the VINs since the cars "officially" finished their construction in Germany rather than in the UK (due to different safety regs for US market perhaps, so they had to be modified?)
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Old 05-02-2009, 09:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by stewb View Post
The first two characters identify the manufacturer's country of origin, not where the car was made.
actually i work at autozone, and it pisses alot of people off when we ask what the vin is on there 00+ silverardo ( actual silverado, not the C series ) because most are made in canada and mexico, and it makes a difference even down to the oxygen sensor, and all has to go with the 1st vin number
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:27 PM   #13
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So when Ford brings the Euro Focus to USA, are you supporting an American company when you buy that? Because last I checked the platform is engineered in Europe and Japan, the car is developed in Europe ...
Huh??!? Ford is Ford. It's like saying Nissan doesn't profit from the cars designed in Californina or Honda doesn't profit from the Accord cause it's built in the US.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:57 PM   #14
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Buy a car that makes sense for your wallet, family, and yourself. Bottom line, yes it would great if we all supported American companies (GMC if you can please, I want the camaro and ZR1, and cts-v to stick around) but we have got to do whats right in our homes first then the country, they do not always coincide in this instance. But do not bad mouth GM or Chrysler for getting federal money and then compare them to toyota or Nissan and say well they don't get bailouts, because they did, you just never got the chance to hear about it. Well before the bailouts for two of the big three were sanctioned, individual states such as Mississippi gave up to 650 million to them just to build plants here. How you like them apples.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-w-..._b_152678.html

This problem is much bigger than we as individuals understand, try to run the entire country and actually the free world. Then pass judgement on what is being done. I don't like Bush or Cheney but they got what needed to be done done by the way they knew best. And hey we needed it. But I saw a "how do you like that for change?" bumper sticker today and i just thought, wow what an idiot. The change that we have seen is evident in our relationships with other countries, Cuba for example.
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:02 AM   #15
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Huh??!? Ford is Ford. It's like saying Nissan doesn't profit from the cars designed in Californina or Honda doesn't profit from the Accord cause it's built in the US.
Ford Europe is Ford just like Opel are GM ... same name; share plenty of corporate things - but are different beasts.

The way Ford and GM are setup is different from how Toyota are setup .. Toyota tend to have a more global company setup while Ford and GM are split into 3 sections really, EU, Aus, US.

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Originally Posted by 904scooby View Post
Well before the bailouts for two of the big three were sanctioned, individual states such as Mississippi gave up to 650 million to them just to build plants here. How you like them apples.
And Ford and the Failed 2 could have got those same benefits if they located their plants there rather than sticking with UAW ones in Michigan ...
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Old 05-03-2009, 10:47 AM   #16
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Huh??!? Ford is Ford. It's like saying Nissan doesn't profit from the cars designed in Californina or Honda doesn't profit from the Accord cause it's built in the US.

Not at all true. It's very common for foreign divisions of a company to be separate entities with separate product lines and separate beneficiaries. Hell, it's common for divisions of companies set up like this to withhold information and developments from each other and basically get in fights...
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:25 AM   #17
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Not at all true. It's very common for foreign divisions of a company to be separate entities with separate product lines and separate beneficiaries. Hell, it's common for divisions of companies set up like this to withhold information and developments from each other and basically get in fights...
Yea, like American Honda and Japanese Honda, but ultimately the profits go to headquarters. These aren't franchises.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:58 AM   #18
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i'd rather by the car that is built by american workers, regardless of company location, at least the money is being paid to people that will put it back into our economy. a ford built in mexico does not really help the US.
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:18 PM   #19
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i'd rather by the car that is built by american workers, regardless of company location, at least the money is being paid to people that will put it back into our economy. a ford built in mexico does not really help the US.
Exactly. When Ford has a plant in Canada and assembles cars there, they are contributing to the GDP of Canada - not ours.

From an Economic standpoint this really has a downward impact on the US's GDP:

GDP is calculated as C + I + G + (X - M);
C = Consumption
I = Investment
G = Government Spending
X = Exports
M = Imports

Since the products aren't being created in the USA, not only is it a large cash outflow from here (creating the plant, paying laborers, buying materials, day to day operations, et cetera) they also have to technically "import" the cars back to the US, which makes us run an even bigger trade deficit; lowering our GDP.

When you get into it, the health of the economy is really scrutinized using GDP as an indicator.

The company itself will still be making money, but sometimes looking at the company's goals and endeavors is more important. Which would you rather support - a company who has its origins in your home country that is moving its operations away from your country or a company who has its origins elsewhere and is readily expanding into your country, creating jobs?
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Old 05-03-2009, 01:27 PM   #20
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Which would you rather support - a company who has its origins in your home country that is moving its operations away from your country or a company who has its origins elsewhere and is readily expanding into your country, creating jobs?
That's kind of a tough call. For example, buying a Honda Accord is supporting a lot more people directly than buying a Mexican built Ford. But car sales are car sales and if you start buying more Fords, you help an American company prosper. Right now I support Honda (and Toyota) for running non-union plants where the employess make good wages and quality products are produced. Though a European Mondeo or a real Focus ST would sway that pretty easily.

Plus after having 3 American vehicles as company cars, I can say that the Japanese cars still outclass the American ones, the Chrysler was by far the worst, the Chevy was ok...it just didn't stand out compared to a similar Japanese car or even the Ford (it does get good gas mileage, and seems well built), and the Ford was the best.

It's an interesting discussion and I think the whole automotive landscape will be different in a few years...probably all the manufacturers will be on more even ground in terms of features, reliability, and efficiency and I believe you will see more global cars than now.
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Old 05-03-2009, 02:04 PM   #21
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Yea, like American Honda and Japanese Honda, but ultimately the profits go to headquarters. These aren't franchises.
As I said; the way the Jap companies are run is different to how GM and Ford run their international brands ... where they are far more separate of each other.
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Old 05-03-2009, 02:40 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by rypt View Post
Ford Europe is Ford just like Opel are GM ... same name; share plenty of corporate things - but are different beasts.

The way Ford and GM are setup is different from how Toyota are setup .. Toyota tend to have a more global company setup while Ford and GM are split into 3 sections really, EU, Aus, US.



And Ford and the Failed 2 could have got those same benefits if they located their plants there rather than sticking with UAW ones in Michigan ...
You must not have read the link. All three of the big three have plants in those states, so no they couldn't have...
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Old 05-03-2009, 03:31 PM   #23
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So when Ford brings the Euro Focus to USA, are you supporting an American company when you buy that? Because last I checked the platform is engineered in Europe and Japan, the car is developed in Europe ...
Yes, you are supporting an American company in that case. You would also be supporting Ford Europe to some extent. Similar to buying a Pontiac G8, even though the development of the car was done in AUS, when a person buys one the money does not all get sent down under.
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Old 05-03-2009, 04:08 PM   #24
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That's kind of a tough call. For example, buying a Honda Accord is supporting a lot more people directly than buying a Mexican built Ford. But car sales are car sales and if you start buying more Fords, you help an American company prosper.
why would i or any other american wish to support a nominally american company whose CEOs make 100x the salary of their workers and outsource all of their production to brazil, mexico, and canada instead of supporting a nominally japanese company whose CEOs make 10x that of their workers and produce their cars in america from largely domestic-sourced parts?
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Old 05-03-2009, 04:10 PM   #25
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Lets get something straight here....

The Toyota Camry that my brother owns was assembled HERE in the United States; however the transmission and engine were assembled in Japan.
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