Foreign automakers have built more cars in the United States than the Detroit 3 here in America for the first time. That’s a big deal. Even if you add in the non-Detroit three automakers (Lucid, Tesla, Rivian), you have a deficit.

Ford is going in the opposite direction, as it has cut back significantly on its original plan to build battery facilities in Michigan. Right on cue, Michigan is cutting back on its massive subsidies for the project.

Building cars in the United States has worked out quite well for Toyota, in particular. Toyota is killing it right now, so it’s no surprise its Chairman/outgoing CEO Akio Toyoda got a big fat paycheck. This is also a big deal because that’s not how Japanese companies usually work.

Finally, the value of used cars continues to drop like a stone.

International Automakers Have Increased Production by 85% In The Last 25 Years.

There’s nothing wrong with a few light trade barriers. Fences make good neighbors and all that. Starting in earnest with President Lyndon Johnson, the American government has frequently taken steps to encourage automakers to build cars here in the great United States. Under the Reagan Administration, foreign carmakers were coaxed into getting their supplier buddies also to build plants here.

Eventually, foreign automakers decided, hell, if we’re building cars here and getting parts here, you might as well design and engineer some vehicles here, too.

Some 4.94 million cars were built in the United States of America by international automakers. That’s what we’re calling them, I guess because the report I’m quoting is from two different organizations (Autos Drive America and American International Auto Dealers Association) that are made up of carmakers and dealers representing non-American brands. They use “foreign” once in scare quotes and international 17o times. But aren’t all carmakers international at this point?

Either way, brands that are not traditionally American built 4.94 million cars here in 2023, the Detroit Three built 4.60 million cars here, and Lucid/Rivian/Tesla built 754,342 vehicles.

This speaks to foreign automakers and the success of NAFTA/USMCA in encouraging Stellantis, GM, and Ford to build plants in Mexico and Canada. Perhaps that’s not entirely fair, as Ford builds more cars here in the United States than any other carmaker. Plenty of foreign automakers also build cars in Mexico.

The distribution across America for these “international automakers” is also kind of interesting, as seen in this graphic:

Roll tide!

What you’ll notice about this graphic is that most places are in southern states where unionization isn’t a given. That explains the extreme urgency of the United Auto Workers union’s campaign to win union contracts with these automakers. The UAW has been on the decline for years and betting on the Detroit 3 doesn’t make much sense.

As a professor in The Detroit News pointed out, it is literally “existential” for them, as their power falls with every closed plant.

Ford Cuts Back Battery Plants In Michigan, Will Lose About $750 Million

The hype around electric cars and the massive success of Tesla, coupled with increasing government requirements, led automakers to announce plans to build a ton of factories to create batteries, motors, and all the things you need to make the damn things.

Then, EV car sales started to slow down, and carmakers began reconsidering some of those plans, including Ford, which massively scaled down plans in Michigan.

Per the Detroit Free Press:

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