Although 8.5 million cars and light trucks were assembled in the United States last year, the traditional Big Three automakers, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors, only accounted for about 5 million of those. The remaining 3 million were built in the United States in American plants for manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda, and BMW. Making it more confusing is that the Big Three also have assembly plants in Canada and Mexico. Thus, American car buyers are faced with the question of whether a car manufactured by a company with its headquarters in Japan, but which has been built in Ohio, as is the Honda Accord, is more American than is a car from an American company headquartered in Michigan selling cars manufactured in Mexico, as is, for example, the Ford Fusion.

Toyota is the leading producer of vehicles built in the United States beating out Chrysler last year by a slight margin. In fact, Honda has been building its vehicles in the United States since as early as 1982 in its plant in Marysville Ohio. And in the 80s and 90s Canadian and Mexican plants were already turning out cars for the Big Three American manufacturers.

Therefore, what is euphemistically called “domestic content,” may not be domestic at all. Domestic content may include parts made in Canada and Mexico. However, while American auto workers are assembling vehicles in American plants for foreign manufacturers, labor is excluded from the determination of what is American-built. Thus, foreign auto manufacturers with assembly plants in the United States cannot factor in the value of American labor, nor be credited for it.

To further confuse matters while, for example, Honda builds its engines in its plant in Ohio for the Acura RTX, the country of origin is still listed as Japan. The reason is that one expensive part, the turbocharger, is actually manufactured and imported from Japan although installed by workers in the Ohio plant.

Clearly, determining whether a car is American-built is confusing and oftentimes misleading.

According to the latest findings from Consumer Reports the Toyota Prius, Smart car, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the Honda Civic Hybrid are the cars that deliver in best city MPG. These cars use the least amount of gas in stop and go driving.

According to Consumer Reports the best cars to buy under $20,000.00 are the Honda Fit, Hyundai Elantra SE, Mazda3 i Sport, Pontiac Vibe 2.4L, Scion tC, Scion xB, Scion xD, Ford Focus SES and Toyota Corolla LE. All models earned very good or better scores in Consumer Report’s tests.

GM’s secured lenders are likely to be paid off in full. This is different than their counterparts at Chrysler where senior creditors were required to accept less than the full face value of their loans. GM’s reorganization plan will provide approximately $6 billion to pay off secured creditors. Subordinated lenders, however, typically GM’s bond holders, will likely recover only 12.5 cents on the dollar. While this may seem unfair the logic behind it is that the senior secured creditors were willing to accept a lower return in exchange for having a priority position in the event of the firm filing for Chapter 11 protection. Bondholders, and other subordinated lenders, had agreed to accept a higher return but along with that took the risk that they could sustain significant losses in the event that General Motors had to file for bankruptcy protection.

Chrysler concluded its deal with Fiat on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, which in effect ended its 42 day reorganization through bankruptcy. As part of the deal the federal government gave Chrysler $6.6 billion in exit financing. Under the terms of the agreement Chrysler sold the bulk of its assets to Fiat. This was an important milepost for the Obama administration which has been seeking to aid the ailing American auto industry after years of losses and declining sales. Chrysler and government officials had repeatedly demanded that the court approve the restructuring quickly inasmuch as Chrysler was losing approximately $100 million a day while its plants were shut and other overhead costs had to be paid. It is anticipated by Chrysler, Fiat, and the federal government that a new car maker will emerge unburdened by the present debt levels and labor costs. Fiat will run the new company that will now also sell smaller fuel-efficient cars worldwide.

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It has been reported that GM is close to concluding a deal with Koenigsegg, a Swedish manufacturer of high end sports cars. This was reported on Swedish television which also reported that a group of Norwegian investors were part of the proposed deal. Saab, operating under Swedish law, had separated from GM in February and thereafter announced that it was seeking new investors to take over the company. Thus far, unlike the United States government, the Swedish government has refused to provide any loan guarantees or capital infusions. It is withholding such decisions until there is an actual sale of the company. Koenigsegg is a small manufacturer of high-performance sports cars which was founded in 1994 and is recognized as a company that produces ultra fast cars and for its attempts to break speed records.