Thursday, December 04, 2008

Washington Should Protect U.S. Cars and U.S Jobs

Gettelfinger appeared before the Senate Banking Committee today in Washington and was asked a question that I can't recall now (I'll keep searching for the transcript), but I do remember he referred to the Level Field Institute when giving his answer. It's an interesting site with a wealth of information and statistics on quality, R&D, jobs, suppliers, etc. But more importantly, they have the facts you need if you want the car you buy to support jobs and investment in your community.

Here's some information I gathered from their pages.
  • Ford, GM and Chrysler sell about half the cars bought in the U.S., but they buy nearly 80% of the parts made here.

  • On average, Ford, GM and Chrysler cars use two and a half times more "domestic" parts.

  • GM and Toyota use approximately the same numbers of workers to build each car. The difference is, only 12% of Toyota's workforce is here. At GM, it's nearly 40%.

  • The bulk of Ford's engineering, design, financing and marketing are here, while Toyota conducts much of that work in Japan.

  • U.S. automakers invest more in R&D than any other industry - and Ford, GM and Chrysler invest approximately 80% of that spending here in the U.S.

  • Ford, GM and Chrysler spend nearly fifteen times more than the Energy Department spends on energy efficiency/alternative fuels programs.

  • Buying a Ford, GM or Chrysler supports about 6 times more U.S. jobs, on average, than buying a Hyundai - and 2.5 times more U.S. jobs, on average, than buying a Toyota. Does that mean the Big 3 are 6 times less efficient than Hyundai, or 2.5 times less efficient than Toyota? It's where the work gets done that matters most to U.S. jobs.

  • "Made in America" matters even more when you look at the men and women working for auto parts suppliers that serve automakers. These companies employ about twice as many Americans as the automakers themselves. And Ford, GM and Chrysler purchase nearly 80 percent of the parts these people make. Based on their market share, foreign automakers should be buying about twice what they are.

  • Tomorrow's jobs will depend, in part, on today's R&D, particularly in fuel efficiency and safety. The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), an association of 14 Japanese automakers doing business in America, notes that they collectively employ 3,600 R&D workers at 36 facilities nationwide. Honda operates 10 facilities employing 1,300 R&D professionals. Level Field welcomes these jobs, but more than 65,000 Americans (nearly 20 times JAMA's total) work in 215 automotive R&D facilities in Michigan alone.
  • Check out the Level Field Institute for yourself. I only touched on a few areas, but one thing is certain - the U.S. car industry is huge and allowing it to fail will kill jobs we'll never get back.

    Gettelfinger touched on that today when he noted the following (I'm paraphrasing):
    For every 2500 cars made in U.S. plants by the Big 3, approximately 78 people are employed to make them. If the domestic automakers fail and foreign makers in our country pick up their production, only 33 jobs will be created per 2500 cars. That's because the foreign automakers buy more of their parts from overseas. We'd still experience net job losses of about 45 jobs per 2500 cars produced.
    Once those jobs go, they'll be gone forever, and foreign automakers will reap the profits. R&D will suffer too. Is that Washington's idea of putting America first?

    (Cross-posted at Blogging for MI)


    Kvatch said...

    The idiocy of the US manufacturers never ceases to amaze me.

    I'm likely to be in the market for a car soon (first time in 10 years), and I would buy the Ford Fusion Hybrid...if the freakin' car were available!!!. Ford has had the 'mule' versions of this car ready for 18 months, but they JUST...WON'T...RELEASE...IT! First it was 'the competitive market conditions'. Then, the desire to put in a more powerful gas-electric power train.'ll probably be some bullshit excuse about gas prices being so low once again.

    I have never owned an American car in my life, but I'm willing to put my money where my country is... If they'll just give one god-damned reason too!

    Kathy said...

    Kvatch, I can't argue with you that the US manufacturers did some pretty stupid things, but I'm not letting consumers off the hook either. Until gasoline shot to $4 a gallon, people were buying hulking trucks and Hummers like crazy. And now that gas prices have fallen again, consumers in some areas are starting to buy trucks and SUVs again. Sigh...

    The government deserves a hefty share of the blame too. They could have put higher taxes on gasoline and forced more R&D and change, but they were too beholden to Big Oil.

    To get back to your comment about the Ford Fusion though, I read recently that Ford is expected to have that car in showrooms in the spring of 2009. Also, I believe by early 2010 the Big 3 are expected to have more hybrid models on the market than all the foreign transplants combined. If they survive that long.

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