A couple of years back, both GM and Chrysler sent their biggest wigs to Washington to ask Congress to spot them some chump change – just until they got themselves back on their feet. Well, regardless of your political views on the auto maker bailouts, had they not taken place there would have been a good chance that both GM and Chrysler would have gone so far in the toilet that they would have pulled much of their supply chain – and hence Ford and perhaps others down with them. That would have ended, for all intents and purposes, the over-century long era of the U.S. as the home of major automotive companies.
The thing is, if that had happened, and the economy had otherwise recovered – perhaps the displaced auto workers being retrained and finding use at the new Soylent factories popping up all over the place – would that be a big deal? With car makers’ factories located around the globe, does the implied nationality of an auto brand matter any more? Consider German cars – are they still German if built in Spartanburg South Carolina or Puebla Mexico? What about Japanese cars built in Illinois or Ohio, are they still Japanese – even if they no longer share size and design with their home-grown counterparts?
You still see ‘BUY AMERICAN’ bumper stickers, but they’re more likely to be stuck to the bumper of a Toyota or Hyundai – which have likely been built here in the states. Just because a maker may be based in a particular country, more and more their products are being designed for and in their intended markets, where many times they are also built. How else would you explain BMW’s X6? With such global borders having been blurred, and brand nationalism seemingly equally so, does such a connection with a maker’s traditional home country still matter?