Cars, trucks and SUVs built by the UAW

Recently, a friend of mine asked for some help finding a new car. As you might imagine, it’s not an uncommon request. However, this particular request came with a requirement I hadn’t come across before: It had to be made by the UAW. You see, her mother had been a proud UAW member and there’d be great familial discord if she came home with a Subaru — even if it was made in Indiana.

That got me digging into just how many cars, trucks and SUVs are actually produced by the UAW. It’s not as easy to ID as it once was, since American-branded cars are built all over the place.

Cars from “American” brands might be built in other countries

It gets complicated for a few reasons. For one, UAW’s Canadian quasi-sister union, Unifor, assembles some otherwise American cars, such as the Dodge Challenger, Chrysler Pacifica, Ford Edge and Chevy Impala. Many UAW loyalists (for lack of a better term) generally give these union-made cars their OK.

Others, not so much, including those made in Mexico (Ford Fusion and Fiesta, heavy-duty Ram trucks, small Chevrolets, etc.), South Korea (Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore), China (Buick Envision), Germany (Buick Regal), Poland (Buick Cascada, sensing a pattern here?) and Italy (Jeep Renegade, yes it’s made in Italy).

Tellingly, FCA doesn’t make a car in the United States. SUVs, vans and some trucks, yes, but not a single sedan or coupe. To be fair, it doesn’t sell many cars at all any more, but it’s still interesting. General Motors easily takes the made-in-America car cake.

Some American-built vehicle aren’t union-built

Of course, if you just want a car manufactured in the United States without a union requirement, there’s far more choice to be had. Heck, my BMW Z3 was built 20 years ago in South Carolina at the same plant that today, albeit extremely expanded, manufactures the majority of BMW’s worldwide SUV production. Mercedes SUVs have also been built for decades in Alabama, which is also home to Kia, Hyundai and Honda production, along with the future Toyota/Mazda joint venture plant. Honda also builds cars in Ohio and Indiana, Toyota is currently in multiple states (Kentucky, Indiana, Texas and Mississippi), Nissan is in Tennessee and Mississippi, Volkswagen is in Tennessee, and Subaru is in Indiana (where its plant just so happens to be designated a wildlife habitat).

And finally, the oddity of Tesla: an American car company making made-in-America cars but without the UAW. So really, buying an American-made car is easy. Buying one made by union workers, well that’s a little trickier.

How to tell your car was made in America and/or by a union

You can at least check out the slideshows above to see which cars and SUVs are UAW-made, but trucks are a bit more complicated since they’re built in multiple factories. Every Ford F-Series truck is made in the United States, but the Ram 1500 can be built in Mexico and the GM trucks win NAFTA Bingo by being built in the United States, Canada and Mexico. You have to examine the VIN to know for sure, with a number beginning with 1, 4 or 5 indicating a U.S.-made pickup, a 2 equaling Canada and 3 equaling Mexico.

If you’re only concerned about UAW-built vehicles, you can look at their handy union-built vehicle guide (PDF format), too.

So now you and I know … ish.

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