Why does anyone care about where a car is manufactured like it is an indicator of anything?
I just read a report that Mexico is on track to replace Japan as the second-largest manufacturer of automobiles purchased in the North American market. You know the brand, of course — Guanajuato Motors. We all love their biggest seller, the Baja.
All that has changed is where the cars are assembled and built, not the “Nation” brand that owns the automaker’s brand. Mexico is expected to replace Japan because of a new Honda plant opening there. Now there is a great heritage Mexican brand— Honda.
Why this is even news is news to me. No one cares where the car is manufactured. Do BMW buyers consider a BMW manufactured in the US as a US automobile? Do they even care?
Brands are emotional issues. They are not rooted in rational values. The strength of a brand finds its fire in the beliefs of the consumer who buys it. The buyer hardly, if ever, notices where something is manufactured.
When a gentleman buys a suit, is he buying the Italian home of the designer or the sweatshop worker in Pakistan who wove the fabric and sewed it together? When a lady buys a Coach bag, what is she buying, the brand or the third-world company that put it all together? The answer is self-evident.
Bravo to Mexico for luring the Honda plant to Guanajuato. When the workers demand a better wage to improve their quality of life, the factory will move to the next underdeveloped market to manufacture it.
Mexico has done nothing to brand any added value to the automobile manufacturing process. That is too bad. I would applaud the shift in manufacturing if it had. Wouldn’t it be great for Mexico if we all looked to “made in Mexico” as a badge of terrific workmanship and fairness to the employees?
Until a manufacturing nation invests in creating a brand for itself beyond cheap, well, I guess we will continue to choose Honda because it is a reliable Japanese brand.