The Fourth of July is undoubtedly the most patriotic holiday on the American calendar. On the anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence, patriotic sentiments are displayed through celebrations of freedom, reflections on sacrifice, and awe-inspiring fireworks shows. Once the ringing in our ears from the fireworks fades and the red white and blue decorations are stowed away, does the patriotic feeling continue throughout the year? A recent Forbes headline reads, “Buy American: Sounds good, but a lower priority for most of us.”
There is a certain kind of pride that comes with buying an American-made product. It represents both the company that produced the item and the country as a whole. A label that reads “Made in the USA” is more than a point of pride: it is the culmination of ingenuity, innovation, and dedication. Consumers have shown that they want to purchase American-made products. If Americans want to hear more about the “American-made” aspect of products, why aren’t they buying more American made cars?
It can be difficult to define just what is an American-made car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges that a 100% American-made car does simply not exist. Just because an automaker calls the United States home does not make it an American car, and neither does the percentage of American parts that make up the eventual vehicle. As a way to provide some clarity on the issue, Cars.com created their American-Made Index, which “rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include the percentage of parts considered domestic under federal regulations, whether the car is assembled in the U.S., and U.S. sales.”
The Cars.com American-Made Index shows a shocking decrease in vehicles with at least 75% American content. According to the Index, “After reaching an all-time low of just seven cars in 2015, the AMI is up to eight cars. That’s still lower than earlier AMIs, when the index regularly hit its 10-car limit, with dozens of models qualifying as recently as 2011.” Increasingly, car buyers have fewer options when it comes to purchasing an American-made vehicle.
When considering the priorities of car buyers, Forbes believes that “statistically, it’s hard to make a case that on average buying American trumps other, more prominent reasons for purchase like reputation of the brand, quality and reliability, and value.” It is possible that fewer Americans make buying an American-made vehicle a top priority because they are increasingly rare. A nationwide commitment of support to American manufacturing, specifically the automotive industry, can lead to more vehicles that qualify for the Cars.com American-Made Index in the years to come.
The Fourth of July should not be confused with consumerism. Red hot “deals” on mattresses and used cars are not true representatives of the spirit of the holiday. True patriotism is a sense of pride in one’s country and includes pride in the items it produces. Americans have long signaled they prefer American-made products, and for decades have driven American vehicles with pride. A commitment to buying American first can lead to a greater selection of American-made vehicles in the future.