Americans will find it a lot easier to tell an imported car from a domestic model, under proposed legislation outlined today by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
The bill, which she said she plans to introduce when Congress reconvenes next week, would require every new car sold in this country to carry a sticker on the window revealing the percentage of American parts and labor in the vehicle.
"American car buyers have a right to know when they buy their Toyota or their Chevy what portion of that car comes from the United States of America," she said, announcing the measure at the United Auto Workers Local 239 union hall in southeast Baltimore.
She referred to the legislation as a consumer bill, not a Japan-bashing move, and said it's designed to give car buyers the information needed to make up their minds. Consumers are confused about what's considered an American-made car or an import, she added.
"People who want to buy American don't know how to do it," she said. "They hear that some Mercurys are built in Mexico. Some Dodges are built in Korea. Some Hondas are built in Ohio and some Mitsubishis are built in Illinois."
The American Automobile Labeling Act of 1992, as she dubbed the proposed legislation, also would require the label to identify any country where at least one-third of the parts originate.
"I'm calling on all of us today to stick up for America and to wear proudly on our cars the label 'Made in America,' " she said at a news conference.
As she spoke she was flanked by large red, white and blue signs noting the high domestic content of the two minivans produced at Baltimore's General Motors plant. The vehicles are made with 94 percent U.S.-made parts and 94 percent domestic labor.