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Where Does That Car Come From?

If it’s a Volvo it’s Swedish, and Vee Dubs are German, right? Well, not necessarily. We’ve done a quick fun quiz to show you that where a car is made is not so obvious.

To take part in the quiz click here

But on a more serious note, manufacturers do not have to reveal to their Australian customers where they make their cars.

If you buy oranges you want to know if they are locally produced or imported.

Strangely, if you want to buy leather shoes, electrical goods, porcelain, brushware or even powder puffs the importers have to reveal their country of origin. But no so with motor cars, because under the imported goods act which dates back to 1940 there are no requirements for the country of origin for a vehicle being supplied to the Australian market to be so identified.

So you go to buy a Holden and you believe you are supporting local industry; but Holdens sold here could well be made in Thailand, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Japan or Korea (and probably others that we haven’t been told about). But they don’t have to tell you.

We think this is wrong. We believe you have a right to know which country makes your car and it should be shown on the compliance plate and other places.

Do you agree? If so we’d like to hear from you so place your comment on the blog comment below.


  1. Michael Horn says:

    As a matter of consistency I would appreciate if the car manufacturers would have to disclose the country of origin. It does not really make a difference to quality because that depends on quality control and this, in turn, depends on the company that runs the plant no matter where it is, not the country of origin. However, it would kill off all those rednecks who horn at you because you are not stupid enough to drive a Holden or Ford in order to support Australia. Would be fun to see their red faces when they realize that their shiny Holden comes from Korea…

    April 20th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

  2. Julie Grint says:

    I had a BMW 3 series sedan made in South Africa and frankly it was a lemon. The airconditioning had to have major expensive repairs done twice, the electric motor that controlled the rear passenger window on the driver’s side failed. When it came to replacing that vehicle it was not with another BMW maybe I was a little bit hard on BMW expecting everything to work as it should.
    I blame poor quality control in the factory in South Africa and would not buy a vehicle manufactured there ever again. I believe that car makers should let the buying public know where particular models are made or assembled so we can make an informed choice. After all there will always be a trade off between the price at which a car can be made and quality issues.

    April 20th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  3. Sam says:

    I am surprised India doesn’t appear much on the list, as a lot of car manufacturing (including premium Mercs and BMWs are moving manufacturing bases there). Maybe they supply the US/Eurpoean markets more than Aus.

    April 20th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

  4. Greg A says:

    Commercial reality drives manufacturers to oupost “non-core” production assets, that way they ammortise the risk of production/sales failure generally in a lower cost area, ie, Spain, Turkey, Slovakia. The key to spotting them is realising what made the manufacturer famous. Porsche design and build really good saloon and sports cars, not 4 wheel drives, etc. Holden are actually famous for the ute, funny how the Cruze is currently manufactured in Korea.

    April 20th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

  5. David Murphy says:

    How can you score the average of 37% when there are 10 questions, each clearly worth an even 10% ?

    April 20th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

  6. admin says:

    @ David Murphy

    Hi David. 37% is the average of all the participants. As you say your personal score would have been one of 0%, 10%, 20%… 100%. Let me know if that makes sense – hopefully our script isn’t broken!

    April 20th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

  7. michael lightfoot says:

    Having seen the car plants in Thailand, I knew about which ones are manufactured there.

    Passenger vehicles have had there manufacturing globally distributed for many years. Anyone who thinks the obvious is bound to be wrong. 🙂

    April 20th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

  8. Mike Taylor says:

    I feel that the badge on the car is not always reliable. Plants in some countries have better quality control than others.

    April 20th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

  9. L WAlton says:

    While all the car makers are indeed multinational companies, with their base in the country we’ve learned to associate them, the actual reality is that they are all global and intertwined. Technology sharing between the makers is the norm.. for example the Mini is English, owned by Germans, assembled in Oxford with a French engine shared with Peugeot 207. If one can decipher the VIN on the car it does state the point of assembly, but it would a good thing if it was overtly stated on the compliance plate as well.

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

  10. Robert Delalande says:

    As some countries have a better reputation for quality control it seems logical that the buyer should be informed of the country of origin, especially as a car is a major expense. A poor reputation for quality can have a significant effect on resale and the overall running costs associated with a vehicle and so the country of origin should be part of the decision making process.
    If the country of origin didn’t matter manufacturers would not sell cars on image.

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

  11. Bryan Mulholland says:

    I recently bought an Audi A4, partly because it was manufactured in Germany. The other two contenders; BMW3 was really a SAMW, made in South Africa and the Mercedes 200c was made in, I think, Thailand, not sure, but it was NOT made in Germany. The quality of the Audi is good but does have certain minor design flaws.
    PS. I scored 80% in quiz.

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

  12. Greg says:

    My Honda Accord Euro is actually made in Japan. I remember when this was not a desirable attribute but is now a mark of quality!
    Go figure

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

  13. tony norton says:

    country of origin should be compulsory as i am spending my money, i should be able to choose who i am helping to feed. also different countries have different standards of quality control.

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  14. Lee Noonan says:

    I left a reply under -Breaking news another recall….

    that reply about countries cars are made should have been here..

    Honda Jazz is NOT made in Japan… etc..

    Maybe someone car transfer it to this subject…


    April 20th, 2010 at 4:28 pm


    It shouldn’t matter to as long as the quality standard is maintained. If you want to get picky even the Holden Commodore is made up of many components manufactured overseas. So you buy Australian and the CEO of that manufacturer goes out and buys himself a Ferrari anyway.
    The Hondas that roll out of Thailand are of the same quality as the ones that do so from Japan. If they weren’t built outside Japan, they would also be more expensive or simply too expensive to be produced in the first place.
    The idea that something built in a particular country is better than another isn’t really convincing anymore. Look at Skodas these days.

    April 20th, 2010 at 5:03 pm

  16. admin says:

    Here you go, Lee. Thanks for posting!

    Yes, The country the car is made or assembled should be on a plate on the car..

    This may change the minds of many people who are buying cars and believe they know where the car was made…

    Like the Honda JAZZ.. NOT JAPAN
    or the Holden Cruze or Captiva.. NOT AUSTRALIA
    Volkswagen New Beetle… NOT GERMANY

    but then again, the FORD FOCUS is made in Germany I believe ..
    If this IS true… a large Made in Germany sticker may sell more of them…

    but after seeing so much badge engineering over the years..

    [years ago, the Holden Cruze was a Suzuki Jimny 4WD made in Japan]
    Holden small cars being made by Suzuki or Nissan.. or Toyota..
    and in later years by Daewoo in Korea…

    Its nearly impossible to tell where a car is made these days….

    many years ago I knew where just about every car was made..

    The first Nissan Micra cars were made in the UK…
    the current model may be made in Japan or ???
    the next model I believe won’t be made in Japan or the UK..

    I believe Mitsubishi and Suzuki cars are made in Japan…


    April 20th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

  17. Tony Grounds says:

    It’s not any wonder that the quality and safety aspects of the more “prestigious” brands leave much to be desired. Everyone should read ‘The Dog and Lemon Guide’ an extremely useful insight into most of the available vehicles sold in Australia. It may be “tongue in cheek”, but it does give all the vehicle recalls for each model and should be a “must read” before purchasing a new (or2nd hand) vehicle.

    April 20th, 2010 at 8:52 pm

  18. rajesh says:

    honda jazz
    oh yes for the name sake its a honda

    not at all the true honda japan quality

    they are a filmsy as a wet wafer

    waste of hard earned money on them

    April 20th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

  19. ROBARTS says:

    I reaaly don’t know why it is allowed to sell anything without the name of the Country or place that it was made , maybe the Companies are’t proud of what they can make, so as to put it in another Countries name

    April 20th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  20. Hayden says:

    I recently bought a Mazda 3 Diesel because it was made in Japan and the Japanese have spent many years improving their quality control.
    I strongly agree that the country of manufacture should be on the build plate as well as the compliance plate.
    Australians want to get their monies worth when making such an important purchase and I think the Japanese can be regarded as the benchmark for good quality and reliable cars.
    These other lesser know manufacturing sites have to prove that their cars not only look good but are made from quality materials that will last.


    April 20th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

  21. pjhinch says:

    all that info re, country of origin is on the compliance plate

    April 20th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

  22. Jack says:

    I have a 1969 BMW 2002 was that not built in Germany?

    April 21st, 2010 at 1:33 am

  23. Phill says:

    I just got 10 out of 10 for the Quiz . They should clearly mark the country of origin on their product. Not all companies can guarantee their quality when made in another country (cheap labour market) as atested in the comments above. Some MB products built in the US have spent most of the first month of their life in the MB service centre being repaired.

    April 21st, 2010 at 8:39 am

  24. Richard says:

    Pjhinch says that you just have to look on the compliance plate.
    Actually that’s technically correct. See our later blog ‘I know where that car comes from!’ for further details.

    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:29 am

  25. peter says:

    C4 made in Spain. French complexity, manufactured during siesta…resultant quality problems are now explained.

    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:56 pm

  26. Gary says:

    I just got 9 out of 10 for the quiz and the one I missed out on was the Citroen C4, which states that it comes from Spain according to the quiz, but actually comes from France, like the whole Citroen range. Anyway, it’s just a quiz. With regards to the manufacturers having to disclose the county of origin, I think it should be an Australian standard. I bought a Honda Jazz for my wife in 2005, which was one of the last ones to come out of Japan, and have not had a problem with it. Friends of mine bought a Jazz a couple of years later which came from Thailand and, nothing but problems. Water coming through the doors because the door seals not on properly; glove box not closing properly; passenger front door not affixed properly as it wouldn’t open properly without having to lift the door up slightly. These are but a few of the problems my friends have had with the vehicle. All problems have been fixed, but they are problems which just should not occur in the first place. Consumers have the right to know where vehicles come from because there is a huge divide with regards to quality control between countries. In this case, Japan and Thailand.

    April 24th, 2010 at 9:09 am

  27. Peter Baker says:

    Had a 1995 VW Transporter, made in Germany. BEST vehicle I ever had. Bought a 2005 VW Transporter, made in Poland. WORST vehicle I ever owned. Engine replaced, gearbox, turbo, 3 sets of driveshafts, 3 indicator stalks and 4 radios. VW avoid me like I have the plague. The sooner Australia enforces anti lemon laws like other countries, the better us consumers will be.
    Anybody interested in buying it?

    April 26th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

  28. Denis Pout says:

    I believe that all vehicles should carry clear indication of the place (City and country) of manufacture. I purchased a new MB C220CDI saloon (just over $80,000 on the road) which, I discovered after taking delivery at Christmas, 2001, was made in South Africa. I had told the salesman, when he asked, that I had not considered a BMW, because I knew, at the time, that they were made in South Africa. He passed no comment. The Benz turned out to be the most poorly mad and unreliable car that I had ever had. When I complained to MB Australia about the car, at the suggestion of the dealer, I received a thoroughly dismissive reply, referring me to the dealer. I disposed of it after five, very unhappy, years for a Holden Calais, which has proved well made, reliable and trouble-free as had other Holdens which I had had before.
    The experience taught me two important lessons:
    1 Always ask to see documentary proof of the provenance of any new car (many sales people will mislead you as to provenance either through ignorance or deliberately) and
    2 Don’t waste money on a so-called prestige car. It may be produced in a junk factory.

    April 27th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

  29. Mel says:

    In the quiz, on the answer page it said the Renault Megane is made in Turkey. The Megane has a VIN starting with VF which, according to your information page, is France.

    May 13th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

  30. Mel says:

    Oops, I mean the Citroen C4, not the Megane.

    May 13th, 2010 at 1:06 pm

  31. Pete says:

    Declariing the country of origin should be mandatory. quality control do varies widely from country to country, and it is very often, the ‘mother’ country that produces the best product. Take a look at Toyota… Most of its recalled vehicles seemed to come from USA. and also looking up customer satisfaction reports like JD Edwards, What! car surveys, Japanese cars produced in US and UK do not rate as highly as cars from Japan.
    So, yes, if I know the merc/bmw model i am buying won’t be made in Germany, I won’t buy one.

    May 13th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

  32. Richard says:

    Mel, according to the information that we’ve been given the Citroen C4 is made in both France and Turkey, which gives even more strength to the actual name of the country of manufacture being openly declared.

    May 14th, 2010 at 5:48 am

  33. Rick says:

    Here’s an interesting one for you.

    I used to have a BMW 318i (E46) which had a VIN starting with WBAA.
    Now, according to the results of your survey, WA-WO means Germany and AA-AH means South Africa.

    RedBook says that such vehicles brought into Australia came from South Africa.

    More here:|0||p_ClassificationType_String|0||p_Family_String|0||p_Year_String|1||p_SequenceNum_Int32|0&__N=2994%204294964888%204294843858%204294965872&silo=1300&seot=1&__Nne=15&trecs=4&__sid=128E53F349A7)

    Yet strcitly speaking if you go by the results of your survey, the first two letters of the VIN indicate it was supposedly made in Germany.

    Someone’s wrong somewhere…..

    May 29th, 2010 at 6:13 pm