American Auto Manufacturing Stages a Comeback

Ford knows there’s a difference between “Made in America” and “Made in the Americas.”

Ford Econoline

Even though we will miss the Econoline, its factory will be put to good use.

Things are looking good for American automobile manufacturing. Automakers both foreign and domestic are once again turning to the United States to start building the vehicles they sell here and elsewhere. Of course, there are some downs to go with the ups, but on the whole, things are looking quite good for a larger-scale resurgence.

Ford currently produces the Econoline van at its factory in Avon Lake, Ohio. However, the ubiquitous Ford work van will end production once and for all later this year. Instead of closing the plant down, Ford is shifting the plant’s focus, moving its commercial medium-duty truck (e.g. F-650, F-750) production from Mexico to the Avon Lake facility.

The change of venue will require a hefty investment – Ford’s shelling out nearly $170 million for the production shift – but Ford believes it will pay off in spades. The F-series is Ford’s biggest money-maker, after all, and there’s a very good chance that moving production to the U.S. will help push a few more trucks out the door, what with the renewed focus of “buying American” and all that. The investment and predicted profits should more than offset the cost of shifting production northward.

Nissan believes its manufacturing push has brought an additional 8,000 jobs to the United States.

It’s not just domestic automakers putting a greater focus on stateside factories, either; Nissan recently made mention of its intention to bring more production to our shores, as well. In a statement made to the Automotive Press Association, Fred Diaz, Nissan’s Vice President of U.S. Sales and Marketing, said he hoped to build 85 percent of Nissan’s U.S. lineup within our borders, up from 76 percent at the end of last year.

Polar Vortex

The cold did a good job of screwing stuff up this year, manufacturing included.

Nissan has been keeping busy at its three factories here in the U.S. Both production and exports in general are on the rise, thanks to Nissan’s decision to transfer the weight of production from Japan. Some of it is going to Mexico, but hey, it’s a business and not a charity. Diaz believes this push has brought an additional 8,000 jobs to the United States. And again, Americans love buying American, so this could help push additional sales Nissan’s way.

Of course, not all is well within U.S. factories. On a sadder note, the Dodge Dart has not met sales expectations since its release, and so Chrysler made the decision to temporarily lay off 325 employees at its Belvidere, Illinois assembly plant. It’s been hard to break into a field dominated by ubiquitous names like Civic and Corolla, and so cuts needed to be made.

However, as the weather warms, the Dart should see its sales numbers go up. Chrysler had a solid February in general, with an overall sales increase of 11 percent. Jeep saw its numbers rise the highest, likely due to the capabilities of its 4×4 offerings in wintry weather, and the Compass is also built at the Belvidere plant.

Despite the seasonal dips, though, sales numbers are rising more or less across the board, and automakers are capitalizing on increased profits by reinvesting some of that money into its infrastructure. More new cars being sold, more production being moved to the United States; now that’s how you start a year off on the right foot, even if Mother Nature tried her best to shake our spirit.

Written by Lewis Shaw

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