Today's Cindy Adams column has the following gem: "Midtown parking lot. Bumper sticker on a car: "Be American, Buy American!" The car was a Honda."

Of course, that Honda was probably made in the US: the Accord and the Civic, the carmaker's two most popular models, are both made in the US, as is their minivan. Honda's not alone in importing factories to the US; Toyota's most popular cars are also built in North America.

This only goes to underscore the problem of corporate national identity in an increasingly multinational world.

The "Big Three" automakers are really only the "Big Two" now, as Chrysler (and the All-American Jeep brand) is part of the German-flavored two-headed monster DaimlerChrysler; Ford has swallowed the obstensibly British Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Jaguar marques, not to mention the study scandinavian Volvo and the efficiently Japanese Mazda; GM owns Saab and Opel outright, and has its fingers deep in to Isuzu.

Even 'independent' companies aren't that independent any more; Nissan is controlled by the French automaker Renault. Likewise, Mini Cooper is now a part of Bayerische Motoren Werke, and Porsche and VW have a long history of cross-investment and joint projects (the Porsche Cayenne and the VW Touareg? not quite the same car, but there's a lot of commonality).

The Toyota Matrix and the Pontiac Vibe are both wagons targeted at Generation Y; what neither company is all that willing to tell you is that they're the same car, with the same frame, engine, and drivetrain, put together by the same workers in the same factory (in Ontario, for what it's worth).

So does "Buy American" really mean all that much anymore?


How do you know all this shit?

Um.. you're wrong on a couple of points. :)

Volkswagen don't own Porsche, the Porsche family own Porsche. And the Touareg isn't the same car as the Cayenne. Similar platform, yes; same car, no.

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