In his May 21 front-page story, "Asian Carmakers Settle Into the South," Greg Schneider reached an incorrect conclusion when he wrote that a U.S. automotive industry trade report suggested inadvertently that "foreign-owned companies produced more vehicles with fewer people." The calculation of employment by U.S. automakers included the direct employment of DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors workers who assemble vehicles, as well as other employees working in component and parts assembly, research, design, headquarters, and sales operations. Because the employment of the foreign transplants is predominately in the final assembly of vehicles, the total number of employees per vehicle only appears to be lower and thus more efficient.
This year three GM plants received awards from J.D. Power for being the most efficient plants in North America. Overall, U.S. manufacturers in the United States are more than competitive across the board with their transplant competitors.
An important aspect of the situation is that foreign automakers perform the majority of all other work in their domestic markets of Japan and Korea. Hyundai's new plant in Alabama, featured in the story, even imports steel from Korea.
The misinterpretation of information did a disservice to the highly efficient and productive manner in which U.S. companies design, test, build and sell cars, and it provided a skewed picture of the relevance of U.S. manufacturing.
KEN W. COLE
Vice President, Government Affairs
General Motors Corp.