Sunday, November 26, 2006

Start an American-Made Christmas Tradition

I like to enjoy each holiday as it comes along, including Thanksgiving. It’s the last bit of sanity before the winter holidays. I made my pumpkin pies, stuffed my turkey, drank wine with my friends and family. Now I take a deep breath, and turn my thoughts to snowflakes, candy canes, and stockings hung by the fireplace. (Note to elves: dust the mantel!!!)

Yesterday I finished my virtual catalog of gift ideas for the Winter Holidays...Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, New Year...I celebrate as many of them as I can! Not to say that we should all bow down to the Gods of Consumerism, but the reality is that many of us do a lot of shopping in the month of December.

Once again, I will try to put my consumer dollars to work supporting businesses that employ American workers. Last year I managed to find American-made products for almost everyone on my list. It’s not always easy, but I enjoy a challenge. So go forth to the malls and shops and read labels. If you cannot find what you want locally, check out my Holiday Gift Catalog for ideas.

Good luck with the quest, and don’t forget to send me suggestions or tips on companies or products you find! Always remember the reason for the show your friends and family that you love them.

Stephanie, Webmaster

Saturday, November 11, 2006

2007 Pontiac G6: SWEET!

How does a “Buy American” goddess go about buying a new car? Particularly a goddess that likes hybrids and high gas mileage and worries about carbon dioxide emissions?

As a loyal Ford Taurus owner, I was mourning the recent closing of Ford’s Atlanta assembly plant where my Taurus was made and waiting patiently for the Ford Fusion Hybrid to hit the dealer lots. Then, last fall I attended the Washington, DC auto show and checked out the Fusion in person. I confess I was disappointed with the interior, and the car’s profile had a masculine feel. To top off my dismay, the Ford Fusion was assembled at the Hermosillo plant in Mexico and the hybrid powertrain also was going to be imported. I remember asking the Ford representative how my purchase of a Ford Fusion Hybrid would be helping the U.S. autoworker? His only response was that at least Ford was a U.S. company! After that, I figured I would just keep the ’91 Taurus healthy and await new developments.

Then, last week one of “Fairfax County’s Finest” moved up my timeline. I was very politely informed that my inspection sticker had expired FIVE MONTHS ago. Egad. Upon inspection, my friendly neighborhood garage suggested $900 in repairs. Needless to say, I was thrust into car search mode.

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Despite my best intentions, and many promises to visitors, I had never put together my Buy American Auto page. Still, I had done some research and I decided to share my search criteria and data here. I wanted a 4-door sedan, UAW-made, good gas mileage and environmental rating, assembled in USA with maximum amount of USA parts.

I considered the following criteria and data sources:
  • Percent domestic content (defined as U.S. and Canadian-made parts), on a sales-weighted basis by automaker/brand (Level Field Institute, a site funded by retirees of Ford, GM, Chrysler, and their parts suppliers, reminds consumers that American jobs associated with auto manufacturing go far beyond assembly, and the source of the parts that go into the vehicles is an important indicator of the ripple effect of auto manufacturing in the U.S. economy).
  • Union-made: United Auto Workers (UAW) have long set the standard for wages and benefits for all automakers in the U.S., and I prefer to support companies that employ union labor (UAW Made Vehicles for 2007 )
  • Environmental performance, including carbon dioxide emissions (an important contributor to global climate change) and air pollutant emissions (smog and ground-level ozone precursors) (EPA's Green Vehicle Guide)

Based on my criteria, I had selected 2 cars for test drive: the Toyota Corolla, if made in USA, based on its superior environmental performance; and the Pontiac G6. Although some Toyota Corolla’s are made in US, it turned out that all the ones available in my region were Canadian-made (VIN starting with 2).

I went to see the Pontiac G6, did a test drive, and fell in love! What a sweet car! I got a great price, including a $1000 “conquest rebate” for switching from Ford to GM. The car is roomy, sporty, and drives beautifully. The instrument panel and interior styling is excellent, and the driver-side seat has adjustable lumbar support and feels GREAT. It also has driver, passenger, and roof-mounted side impact air bags. All this for approximately $17,000.

I feel like I got a bargain, and I am proud to be driving a vehicle assembled at the Orion Assembly plant in Lake Orion, Michigan by UAW Local 5960, with U.S.-made engine and transmission.

Stephanie, Webmaster