Cars That Aren't Built Where You Think They Are

Car Culture / Comments

America's BMW, Austria's Toyota, and Canada's muscle car.

The world is round, and globalization is normal now, but we still associate many cars with their brand's country of origin. Some brands trade on it; for example, consider modern Minis with their Union Jack motifs on the taillights. For some cars, it's easy to take for granted that they're a product of the country that the brand comes from. The Dodge Challenger, Jaguar F-Type, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class spring to mind. However, the Jaguar is the only one of those three cars guaranteed to come from its brand's home country. Learning that the Mercedes flagship sedan, often touted as the pinnacle of German engineering, is built in both Germany and Mexico highlights how global the industry is. There are some even bigger surprises, though.

Toyota Tundra

The Tundra is well known for being a Japanese workhorse of a truck, but in reality, it's as American as a McDonald's inside a Walmart. Not only is the Tundra the first full-size pickup from a Japanese manufacturer to be built in North America, but its American parts content is 75 percent. According to the American Made Index, that makes the Toyota Tundra more American than America's beloved Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. Removing any doubt that the Tundra is aimed squarely at the American market, it's designed in California and Michigan after which it is built in Princeton, Indiana, and San Antonio, Texas. Our favorite nod to the Tundra's Americanness is the optional Fender audio system which sounds particularly good when listening to country and western music.

Toyota
Toyota
Toyota
Toyota

Audi Q7 And Q8

The Audi Q7 was the German manufacturer's first SUV, but it has never been manufactured in Germany. It debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005 but is built mainly at the Volkswagen Bratislava Plant in Bratislava, Slovakia. It's also assembled in Aurangabad, India, and Kaluga, Russia. The more coupe-like Q8 is also built in the same places while its direct relative, the Porsche Cayenne, currently only comes from the Slovakia plant.

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Cars That Aren't Built Where You Think They Are
Cars That Aren't Built Where You Think They Are
2020-2022 Audi Q7 Driving Front Angle Audi
2020-2022 Audi Q7 Rear-Facing View Audi
2021-2022 Audi RS Q8 Front Angle View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Audi RS Q8 Rear Angle View CarBuzz

Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class

Mercedes debuted the GLB in Park City, Utah, in 2019, and decided to build its three-row compact SUV in Mexico. It's a curious decision for a brand that has built its reputation on German design and build quality. However, it makes sense as Mexico's labor is comparatively cheap and now has one hell of a network supporting automotive companies that wish to manufacture there. The GLB is built at the Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes (COMPAS), which is a joint venture between Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Corporation that resides in Aguascalientes.

2021-2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB 35 Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
2021-2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB 35 Side View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB 35 Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLB 35 Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz

Toyota GR Supra

When rumblings about the return of the Supra name started, it was assumed it would be an all-Japanese sports car. However, Toyota teamed up with BMW to bring us what is, essentially, a German sports car with Japanese engineering specs. It's the best of both worlds, but it's made in neither Germany nor Japan. Instead, the production of the GR Supra takes place in Magna Steyr's plant in Graz, Austria.

Magna Steyr isn't a marque or a brand, but it is a car manufacturing company that operates on contracts. Also on its current roster is the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and Jaguar's electrified vehicles.

CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz

Honda Civic Type R

Traditionally, Honda's Type R models are JDM legends, but the current generation is a British incarnation. Well, it was as the plant in Swindon has now been shut down as part of what Honda claims as preparation for electrification and not as a result of Brexit. However, a large part of the reason the Swindon plant existed was because of the trade agreement between Europe and Japan. As a result, the Swindon plant also had the distinction of building Honda cars for export to Japan. Its closure included the loss of 3,500 jobs and production moving to Japan, North America, and China. Not a lot is known about the next generation, let alone where it will be built, but Honda may produce it in the US or Canada.

2020-2021 Honda Civic Type R Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
2020-2021 Honda Civic Type R Rear View CarBuzz
2020-2021 Honda Civic Type R Front Badge CarBuzz
2020-2021 Honda Civic Type R Wheel CarBuzz

Chevrolet Trailblazer

The Trailblazer crossover is one of Chevrolet's best-selling vehicles, and not to be confused with the truck-based SUV still built in Thailand and Brazil. The crossover you now commonly see on American roads is built in Incheon, South Korea. Trailblazers built in Shanghai, China, are mostly for the Chinese market. GM has three plants in South Korea and makes "brand-specific vehicle assembly kits" for the United States, Brazil, China, Colombia, and Mexico-based affiliates. Also built in Korea specifically to be exported is the Buick Encore GX.

2021-2022 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Front Angle View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Side Perspective Driving Chevrolet
2021-2022 Chevrolet TrailBlazer Side Angle Driving Chevrolet

Jeep Renegade

There's nothing more American than a Jeep, unless it's a small Jeep. The Renegade is built in Brazil, China, and India, for their respective markets, but the North American models are made in Toluca, Mexico, while European Renegades are built in Melfi, Italy. The Italian connection is significant, as the Renegade is built on the Small Common Components and Systems (SCCS) platform. The platform was developed by Fiat. It's underpinned many cars, including the Fiat 500X when it was available in the US.

Jeep
Jeep
Jeep
Jeep

Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger is one of America's last remaining muscle cars, destined to become an icon and a reminder of America at the height of its automotive gas power. However, reality has bitten, and the Challenger, and its four-door cousin, the Charger, are built in Canada. Specifically, it's produced at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Ontario, which produces both cars and the Chrysler 300. The 5.7-liter Hemi engine used for Canada manufactured cars, as well as the Dodge Durango, Ram Pickup, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the new Grand Wagoneer, is built at Chrysler's Saltillo Engine plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

Dodge
Dodge
Dodge

BMW X5

In 2018, President Trump stood on a stage in South Carolina complaining about the European Union. He said: "They send Mercedes, they send BMWs, they send everything, we tax them practically nothing, we can't send them our cars. And if we do, they charge us many, many times the tax we stupidly don't charge." However, he wasn't even 100 miles from BMW's largest car plant in the world, which also ships more than 70 percent of its annual production to other export markets. That includes the X5, which is only built at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. That means if you're on the German Autobahn and you see BMWs most popular SUV cruising along, it was built in the US.

2019-2022 BMW X5 Front Angle View BMW
2019-2022 BMW X5 Side View BMW
2019-2022 BMW X5 Rear View BMW
2020-2021 BMW X5 M Dashboard BMW

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