Globalisation is nothing new to the automotive industry. Many of the world’s great car brands have been swallowed up by a few conglomerates, which divvy out production to third-party countries where production costs are generally lower or heavily subsidised.
There’s nothing secret about this, yet people still buy cars with nationality in mind without realising its badge’s country of origin, parent company location and where they’re actually assembled can span three continents.
It’s fair to assume the bulk of cars imported to Australia come from Japan, and then perhaps followed by Germany and South Korea. But it may surprise you that last month Thailand assembled the most cars sold here (23,803), just beating Toyota (23,359) and outstripping South Korea (12,782), Germany (6589) and the US (4139) combined. Australia scraped in at fourth place with just 6945 cars rolling off the local Ford, Holden and Toyota production lines.
The Thai imports include most of the top-selling utes in this country including Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Tritons, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max.
One of the few not made there is the Volkswagen Amorok, which is built in … uhm, Argentina.
Other cars assembled beyond their country of origin include the Renault Clio, which is made in Turkey, the Hyundai Tucson range, which is mostly assembled in the Czech Republic, and all Hondas except the Odyssey, which are also made in Thailand.
And if you like German cars, be mindful that quite a few models sold here never set wheels in Deutschland, including the Slovakian-built Audi A7 and VW Tourareg; Spanish-made Audi Q3, Mercedes V250 and VW Polo GTis; Hungarian Audi A3 and TT and the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class sedan and VW Polos, which are built and loaded on to RORO (roll on, roll off) ships in South Africa.
Meanwhile the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and GLS SUVs are assembled in the US. The Yanks also build the Italian-badged Fiat Freemont (while its US-market equivalent, the Dodge Journey, is built in Mexico) while letting the Italians put Jeep Renegades together.
To make more sense of it all, here’s a list showing where most of the cars sold here come from.
ORIGIN OF CARS SOLD IN AUSTRALIA IN JULY 2016
Including: Ford Everest, Fiesta, Focus, Ranger; Holden Colorado; Isuzu D-Max , MU-X; Honda Accord, City, Civic sedan, CR-V, HR-V, Jazz; Mazda 2, BT-50, CX-3; Mitsubishi Mirage, Pajero Sport, Triton; Nissan Navara, Pulsar, Ultima; Suzuki Celerio; Toyota Corolla sedan, Fortuner, Hilux
Including: Honda Odyssey; Mazda 3, 6, MX-5, CX-5; Mitsubishi ASX, Lancer, Outlander, Pajero; Lexus (all models); Nissan 370Z, GT-R, Patrol, X-Trail; Peugeot 4008; Subaru (all models); Suzuki Grand Vitara, Swift; Toyota Corolla hatch, Prius, Tarago, Yaris, 86, LandCruiser models, RAV4
South Korea, 12,782
Including: Holden Barina, Captiva, Malibu, Spark, Trax; Hyundai Accent, Elantra, i30, i40, iMax, Santa Fe, Tucson Active variants, Veloster; Kia (all models); Renault Koleos; Ssanyong Korando, Rexton
Including: Ford Falcon, Territory; Holden Calais, Commodore, Cruze; Toyota Aurion, Camry
Including: Audi A1, A4, A5, Q5, S3, R8; Ford Fiesta ST, Holden Insignia; Mercedes A-Class, B-Class, C-Class wagon, E-Class, GLA, GLC; S-Class, SLK; Porsche (all models), VW Golf, Passat, Multivan, Tiguan,
Including: BMW X5; Fiat Freemont; Ford Mustang, Jeep Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Patroit, Wrangler; Mercedes GLE, GLS; Nissan Pathfinder; Tesla Model S, Toyota Kluger
Including: Aston Martin; Bentley; Honda Civic hatch; Jaguar; Mini (apart from the Austrian-built Countryman); Nissan Juke, Qashqai; Land Rover; Rolls-Royce
Including: Audi Q3; Citroen C4 Cactus; Ford Kuga, Mondeo; Mercedes V250; Renault Captur, Megane (except the French-built Renault Sport Megane); VW Polo GTI
South Africa, 1140
Includes: BMW 3-Series; Mercedes C-Class sedan; VW Polo
Czech Republic, 798
Including: Hyundai Tucson; all Skoda models
Including: Audi A3, Audi TT; Suzuki S-Cross, Vitara
Including: Citroen C4 Picasso, C5, DS3, DS5; Peugeot 208, 308, 508, 2008; Smart
Including: Ford Ecosport; Hyundai i20, Nissan Micra, Suzuki Baleno
Slovak Republic, 590
Including: Audi A7, VW Touareg
Including: Volvo S60, V60
Including: Abarth 695, Alfa Romeo (all models), Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Maserati (all models)
Including: Abarth 595, Fiat 500, Holden Astra, Cascada; VW Caddy
Including: Renault Clio
Foton Tunland, Haval (all models), LDV G10
Including: Volvo V40, XC90
Including: Dodge Journey, VW Beetle, Jetta
Including: VW Scirocco
Including: Suzuki APV
Proton (all models)