Letter to the editor: Buying ‘American-made’ vehicles not as useful, simple as it seems

Rustan Swenson, in a Feb. 23 letter to the editor, opened up a major can of worms by encouraging us to buy American-made vehicles on Presidents’ Day. Ford, GM or Chrysler probably come to mind for a majority of readers. A friend told me he drove Ford trucks because they were the most American-made. I have driven largely Ford trucks, because I buy them used and aged and they survive most all the abuse I can mete out to them. But American made? I was dubious, so I got nosey.

Today, Ford accesses their truck parts from suppliers over a good deal of the planet. To make them less American-made, they are assembled in Mexico. I discovered that the truck builder accessing most of their parts in the U.S. and assembling them here was Toyota Tundra — another rugged truck. This info was not welcomed by my friend. 

Further investigation revealed that the most American-made vehicles, in general, were Hondas, closely followed by Toyotas. They also rated at the top of the latest crash tests done by the independent, nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Chrysler products are largely Fiats, built in Melfi Italy — known for low quality and reliability. Ford and GM have been caught in all sorts of skulduggery, including bribing the American Enterprise Institute to downplay climate change. Some in-depth investigation reveals that their claims of American-made are confusing and dubious.

Years ago, a long-time employer and friend of mine, who was fabricating production machines for local companies, told me that GM used any carpets one of those companies sent them. U.S. Honda returned half of them due to defects. The Japanese companies, long focused on quality, set up their own parts fabricators here to avoid dealing with the poor-quality U.S.-made parts. I have been driving mostly domestic vehicles for quite a while — Hondas and Toyotas. The Hondas are, like the Ford truck, close to indestructible.  Both brands are significantly reliable.

Instead of buying an “American-made” 19 mpg Mustang macho-machine with dangerously restricted driver’s view of the surroundings, I think it is time to set aside our nationalism and militaristic thinking and focus on saving ourselves from the mess we have created by using fossil fuels with gay abandon. 

Psychologists have said that competition in sports is destructive. I am convinced that it is much more destructive in relations between nations. We are all walking precariously on the same planet. It is way past time to stop behaving like a barn full of tom cats and start cooperating to address the greatest challenge ever endangering our continued existence. Love conquers all. Let’s all be friends.

Joe Gleason


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