Most Reliable American Car Brand Will Be Made in China — Slave Labor Fears
While foreign automakers have performed better for dependability in recent years, American car brands have a long history of reliability. This includes Lincoln, Ford’s luxury division, founded over 100 years ago. And this reliability continues, as Consumer Reports rates Lincoln as the most reliable American car brand. However, in a shocking twist, the redesigned 2024 Lincoln Nautilus luxury SUV will be made in China and imported to the United States. Also, as we extensively detailed in a previous article, this raises fears of the use of slave labor in China.
Lincoln is the most reliable American car brand in Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey
Following its annual Auto Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports released a list of the most reliable car brands, per USA Today. Like previous years, Toyota and Lexus are at the top of the list. And all of the other automakers in the top 10 are foreign brands — except for one: Lincoln. It’s the most reliable American car brand, according to Consumer Reports.
Compared to the previous year, Lincoln jumped 14 spots to take 10th place on the most reliable car brand list. The American automaker achieved this mostly due to the high-level reliability of the Nautilus and Corsair luxury SUVs. The Corsair rates especially well for reliability, with Consumer Reports naming it the sixth most reliable car.
2024 Lincoln Nautilus will be built in China and imported to the US — with more models likely to follow
Given this improved reliability and the long history in America, it’s somewhat shocking that Ford and Lincoln will move the production of U.S.-market vehicles to China. Currently, Lincoln builds its U.S.-market models in North America, which are all luxury SUVs. The Aviator is made in Chicago, while the Nautilus is built in Ontario, Canada. And the plant in Louisville, Kentucky, is for the production of the Corsair and Navigator.
However, this will soon change. It starts with the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus, which the American luxury car brand recently unveiled. The redesigned luxury SUV has a sleek new look, a more refined interior, and many new features. This includes a massive display screen and in-vehicle scent cartridges for a relaxing ambiance.
However, for business reasons, Lincoln will import the 2024 Nautilus from its production facility in China, per CNN. This production is a partnership with Changan, which is state-owned by the Chinese authoritarian government.
It might come as a surprise to many people that Lincoln is very popular in China. Like Buick, its American luxury car brand competitor, Lincoln sells more models in China than in the U.S.
Also, Ford and Lincoln already build the Nautilus in China for the local market. It makes the Aviator luxury SUV there, too — but not yet for import to the U.S. There’s also the Lincoln Z midsize luxury sedan (aka Zephyr), which replaced the discontinued MKZ — and is exclusive to the Chinese market.
Automotive industry in China has significant ties to slave labor in Xinjiang
The news of the most reliable American car brand moving production to China is undoubtedly upsetting to many people in the U.S. It’s a particularly striking blow because Lincoln, as well as Ford, are such a big part of American automotive culture — with over 100 years of history.
However, from a human rights standpoint, there’s an even more concerning aspect of the U.S.-spec Nautilus being made in China, along with other models likely to follow.
Human rights experts at Sheffield Hallam University in England recently released a report on the ties that the automotive industry in China has to slave labor in the Xinjiang region — populated mostly by Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. The Chinese government and authorities have committed numerous human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Along with slave labor, this includes over one million people in internment camps, cultural genocide, intrusive surveillance, and torture. Also, a United Nations human rights report detailed many of these horrific abuses.
The Sheffield Hallam University human rights report showed that both Chinese automakers and suppliers have strong ties to Xinjiang and its slave labor. And the most shocking aspect of the report is this slave labor connects with the entire global supply chain. The problem is so prevalent and extensive that if you bought a new car in the past five years, a part of the vehicle is likely tainted by slave labor and other human rights abuses.
Lincoln provides reliability — but now there are ethical concerns for the automaker
Another area affected by human rights abuses is Tibet. It has vast mineral wealth used in automotive production. China invaded the peaceful Buddhist country in 1950, killing over one million Tibetans and destroying most of its 6,000+ temples. And human rights abuses in Tibet continue, with cultural genocide, including suppression of the Tibetan language and culture.
Sadly, I’ve witnessed human abuses firsthand during my travels in Tibet and work with the Tibetan refugee population in India. Also, these problems are worse under authoritarian President Xi Jinping.
And for Lincoln, with the redesigned 2024 Nautilus built in China — and other models likely to follow, the ethical concerns are greater. There’s a strong likelihood that Lincoln vehicles imported to the U.S. will have even stronger ties to slave labor and other human rights abuses in China.
As mentioned earlier, for vehicle production, Lincoln and Ford have a joint venture with Changan, a Chinese government state-owned company. And the authoritarian government is the entity most responsible for these human rights abuses.
The goodwill of Lincoln being named the most reliable American car brand by Consumer Reports is short-lived. With the Nautilus being made in China and likely ties to slave labor in Xinjiang, there are ethical concerns about getting a Lincoln for American luxury SUV buyers.