Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Of Jobs and Environmental Accords

I meandered through the car dealership, waiting for the finance folks to process me.

It was new car time, but things were a little slow in the dealership as they tend to be, so I wandered from car to car, sampling them as I waited.

We were getting a Honda, an Accord, because they're just great cars.  Reliable.  Practical.  Efficient.  Surprisingly nice to drive.

You can't go wrong with a Honda, or so I've been saying since I convinced my dad to buy his first Honda over thirty years ago.  They are fine, fine automobiles.  Heck, if I wasn't in the ministry, I could sell 'em.

But what I was reminded of as I wandered through the dealership was a little peculiarity of Honda in America:  most Hondas are American cars.  Checking the manufacturer labels on the sides of those minivans and sedans and small utes, you can find the place of manufacture and the parts content.

Most of the vehicles on that dealership floor were made in America, produced by American workers in Honda factories in Ohio.  Or in Kentucky.  Or in Tennessee.  Seventy percent or more of the parts content?  American.

In an age where Jeeps are made in Europe, and Dodges in Canada, and Fords in Mexico?  I'd say Honda counts as American.

But not our Accord, unfortunately.  I was disappointed to discover it, because while I don't care a whit about which CEO of which global corporation pockets a percentage of my purchase, I like supporting American factory workers.

We'd gotten the hybrid version, because DC traffic is just so heinous.  And I like the often silent running of a hybrid, and the lower impact on the environment.  That, and we got a great deal, because with gas so cheap, hybrids are languishing.  It cost us less than the price of the average vehicle in America.

Alone among the Accords you can buy in America, the hybrid was built in Saitama, Japan.  It used to be made in America, back as recently as 2015.  But American suppliers haven't invested in battery production and electric motor production in the same way as the Japanese, and Honda couldn't get the parts it needed to manufacture the last version here.  Shortages gummed up their production lines.

So for the new iteration of the Accord, those jobs left these shores.  America fell a little further behind, and our lack of attention to the future meant fewer Americans working.

And sure, we're talking Honda Accords and not a Paris Accords.

But the pungent symbolism did not escape me.