President Donald J. Trump has built his reputation as a master negotiator. And in terms of trade, he’s working toward implementing “America First” policies that would give U.S.-made goods the upper hand around the world. But when it comes to the auto industry, he’s had more misses than hits so far.
As the old cliche goes: “Better to be thought a fool and remain silent than to speak and remove all doubt.” And when it comes to automotive matters, the president should take that to heart. Back in May, he reportedly told a delegation of EU officials: “The Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the U.S.
Terrible. We’re going to stop that.” And on his recent trip to Asia, he doubled down on foreign automakers, lamenting how few American cars are sold in Japan, and suggesting that Japanese companies need to build more factories in the U.S. if they want favorable trade conditions.
But here’s the problem: Japanese and German automakers are already here. Today, there are 11 Japanese-owned and four German plants in the U.S. (not to mention two Korean Hyundai and Kia plants). What’s more, automakers from both countries are eager to build more. These factories (and the car companies that own them) already employ thousands of Americans, have become economic hubs in their communities, and build millions of cars that are sold every year within the U.S. Of the more than 40 “import models” from Germany and Japan already built in America, here are 10 of the biggest standouts.
1. Acura NSX
In the ’90s, the original Acura NSX was a supercar-slaying dark horse. It was fast, comfortable, reliable, and very Japanese. A quarter-century later, Honda’s tech-laden supercar isn’t built in Japan. It’s built in Marysville, Ohio, along with some of Honda’s best-selling models.
2. Volkswagen Atlas
After a tumultuous few years, Volkswagen is trying to break back into the U.S. market in a big way, and it’s doing it with its all-new three-row SUV, the Atlas. While the big people mover has Teutonic good looks, it’s built at the company’s massive Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant.
3. Honda Accord
Honda’s all-new 2018 Accord is making the type of splash that a midsize sedan hasn’t made in years. And like the Acura NSX, it’s built in Marysville, Ohio. Interestingly enough, that plant was opened by Honda in 1982 to build — you guessed it, the Accord. The car has been in constant production there for 35 years now.
4. Honda Civic
Thanks to an aggressive new redesign and a welcome injection of performance, the Civic is back on track after a few lackluster years. As a result, it’s consistently been one of the 10 best-selling cars of 2017. And while the Civic is built around the world, U.S. model cars are built at Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana, plant.
5. BMW X5
BMW’s midsize luxury SUV has been a strong seller since it was introduced back in 1999. And while it’s now in its third-generation, one thing has remained consistent: The vast majority of these German SUVs have been built at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant. Whether you’re buying an X5 in Georgia or Germany, you’re buying an American-made vehicle.
6. Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling midsize car in America since 1996 when it took over from the once-mighty Ford Taurus. And while that may rankle “Buy American” car shoppers, the Camry has a secret: Since May 1988, all American market models have been built at Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.
7. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
While BMW opened its Spartanburg plant in 1994, Mercedes-Benz wasn’t far behind its rival, opening its Vance, Alabama, plant in 1997. Since 2014, the German automaker has built virtually every C-Class model offered in North America there. The plant also has a small museum on site and offers factory tours.
8. Nissan Rogue
If there’s been a rising star in a field of otherwise tepid auto sales in 2017, it’s the Nissan Rogue. The popular compact crossover has been flying off dealer lots, remaining one of the 10 best-selling models in America each month. And while its based on a model sold in other markets (the X-Trail), each and every Rogue sold in the U.S. is built with pride in Smyrna, Tennessee.
9. Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
When Mercedes’ Vance, Alabama, plant opened in 1997, it built the then-new M-Class SUV, which was designed to appeal to America’s insatiable appetite for SUVs in the ’90s. Two decades later, the plant is still churning out luxury people movers for Americans. Both the GLE- and GLS-Class models are built there.
10. Subaru Outback
Over the past few years, Subaru’s combination of value, safety, and all-wheel drive powertrains have made it one of the hottest-selling car brands in America. It’s been so popular lately, in fact, that its plant in Lafayette, Indiana has been operating at full capacity. Subaru of Indiana has been in operation since 1989, and today, it churns out the Outback, Legacy, and Impreza. The automaker has featured the plant (and its commitment to renewable energy and recycling) in a number of television and print ads.