Many (especially here in Michigan) lament the downfall of the US auto industry and the export of dollars to foreign car companies. For their part, foreign car companies have attempted to improve their image by having their cars assembled here in the United States; they make it a point to publicize this fact, both in commercials and in news releases.
But I recently heard something that calls into question the true impact of this practice: that the assembly of cars in the US still results in most of the purchase price of the vehicle being sent overseas. The revenue from the sale of a car gets distributed toward a number of broad expense categories, such as:
-part fabrication (casting engine blocks, forging pistons, cutting gears, etc.)
-component subassembly (building a transmission, engine, or instrument cluster)
-final assembly (bolting subassemblies together to make a car)
What I’ve been told is that for foreign cars assembled in the US, typically it’s only the final assembly that takes place here, with the rest being done in other/cheaper countries. More to the point, the final assembly typically is the lowest cost item on that list. The upshot is that final assembly of foreign cars in the US is a feel-good public-relations measure that does relatively little to limit the export of dollars and jobs.
Can anyone confirm whether that last paragraph is true?