American consumers pay an average of $35,000 for their new car, truck, or crossover. But what does that sum actually cover? And with President Donald Trump's border tax threats that could add 20 percent to the price of any car manufactured outside America, exactly how crucial are labor costs to consumers — and automakers?
"We'd kill to cut a nickel off the price of a car," one high-ranking automotive insider told NBC News.
Labor is nowhere near the most expensive part of building a car. Add in all factory costs, including the $1 billion price tag for the plant itself, and you're looking at roughly 10 to 15 percent of that vehicle's $35,000 sticker price, according to several senior industry executives who asked to remain anonymous in revealing typically proprietary data.
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The auto industry has found itself in the political spotlight in recent months, as Trump has called on automakers to shift production back from Mexico to the U.S. Though a variety of factors have led them to move many models to plants south of the border, labor costs are one of the key factors.
Mexican auto workers barely earn as much in a day as their U.S. counterparts do in an hour — between $50 and $60, including wages and benefits, when you average out various union and non-unionized plants across the States, according to industry data.