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Which appliances are still American-made?

Consumer Reports News: April 19, 2011 06:00 PM

Some quintessential American names like GE, Walmart, Oracle and Caterpillar have been adding more jobs abroad while shedding them in the U.S., according this report in today’s Wall Street Journal. But Consumer Reports has found at least a few U.S. and foreign manufacturers that are still building fridges, stoves, and other home appliances right here.

Viking, Dacor, Thermador, Sub-Zero, and Wolf (which was acquired by Sub-Zero in 2000) are among the companies that produce most of their appliances in U.S. factories. “We’ve just bought a 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Arizona,” Sub-Zero spokesman Paul Leuthe told Consumer Reports. “It’s a matter of keeping production here where our quality standards can be more closely monitored.”

While those brands also carry premium price tags, Whirlpool, Maytag (which is owned by Whirlpool) and GE are among the more-mainstream names that build appliances both stateside and overseas. And foreign-based manufacturers like Bosch and Electrolux also maintain factories in the U.S.

But that doesn’t mean everything these brands sell is actually made here. For instance, Whirlpool’s Cabrio and Vantage and Maytag’s Maxima and Bravos washers and dryers are made in Clyde, Ohio and Marion, Ohio. And all of Maytag’s top -compartment refrigerators, including French door models, are made in Amana, Iowa, while Whirlpool makes its Resource Saver dishwasher in Findlay, Ohio and some ranges in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But other lines and models can come from other places.

Nor is a fridge or dishwasher built in America necessarily American-made. Indeed, items labeled “Made in America” must have all their significant parts and processing of U.S. origin according to Federal Trade Commission rules. Otherwise, you may find them labeled with phrases like "Made in U.S.A of U.S. and imported parts" or “Assembled in U.S.A.”

What is or isn’t American-made is also a shifting landscape. A GE spokeswoman told Consumer Reports GE is investing $1 billion in new product lines made in Louisville, Kentucky, including front-loading washers and matching dryers, the GeoSpring hybrid water heater and French-door refrigerators. Additional investments in other refrigerator plants in Bloomington, Indiana, Selmer, Tennessee and Decatur, Illinois should make GE the largest domestic refrigerator manufacturer.

Germany’s Bosch produces dishwashers as well as cooking and laundry appliances for its own brand and its U.S.-based Thermador subsidiary in New Bern, South Carolina and La Follette, Tennessee. But the company plans to end U.S. production of its Vision line of washers and dryers this spring.

Frigidaire, which is owned by Sweden’s Electrolux, produces dishwashers for both brands at their Kinston, North Carolina, plant. Another factory in Anderson, South Carolina, builds 15- to 18-cubic foot top-freezer refrigerators and premium wine coolers. But all other refrigerators are built in Juarez, Mexico. Frigidaire’s freezers are built in St. Cloud, Minnesota, along with some of Electrolux built-in premium refrigeration products, though the company recently relocated washer and dryer production from Webster City, Iowa, to Juarez.

And at least a few jobs are coming back to the U.S. at the expense of Canadian workers. Production of Frigidaire gas and induction cooktops moves from L’Assumption, Quebec, to Memphis, Tennessee, in 2013.

Wherever your next appliance is made, our free buying guides and Ratings (available to subscribers) of appliances can help you make the best choice.

Check out this video with actor John Ratzenberg (who played the mailman Cliff Clavin in “Cheers”), who shares his feelings about keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S. And feel free to share your view in the Comments field below.

Gian Trotta

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