CEO Column

Jennifer Safavian | Members Give Back

Jennifer Safavian
November 30, 2022

The U.S. auto industry has a rich history. Auto manufacturing transformed our economy in the 1920’s, bringing mobility, convenience, and independence to communities across the U.S. Today, this robust sector continues to shape modern society. It has adapted to meet consumer demands, with international automakers now making up nearly 50% of the industry. What’s more, the U.S. auto industry contributes significantly to the domestic economy, grows our skilled workforce, and develops advanced technologies that make vehicles safer and more efficient.

This holiday season, as we reflect and show gratitude, international automakers operating in the U.S. have much to be grateful for. And while we are proud of our continued growth in the U.S., including the major financial investments in new electric vehicle facilities, we know that it is our hard-working employees and vibrant communities that drive our companies forward. And to ensure that the foundations, schools, museums, and other charities that guarantee  our neighbors have the support and funding they need, our members give back.

From hosting 5Ks for charity to packing meals in soup kitchens, international automakers partner with their team members to donate time and resources throughout the year. Some of our members have annual community events during the holidays while others pick new charities to support during the year. Regardless, these contributions are significant.

Just a few weeks ago, Subaru kicked off its annual Share the Love Event. During this nearly month-and-a-half-long initiative, Subaru and its retailers aim to donate more than $250 million to charity partners across the country, including the ASPCA, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Meals on Wheels. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) and their team members recently presented more than $332,000 to the United Ways of Alabama. This was the 19th year HMMA supported United Ways of Alabama, bringing the company’s total donation to $4.8 billion dollars. In South Carolina, BMW hosted its annual BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament, an effort to raise money and awareness for local charities in the Upstate region. Since its inception in 2001, the tournament has distributed more than $14.3 million to a variety of nonprofits across Upstate South Carolina.

Kia also launched its Accelerate the Good program, which will donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for each new vehicle sold until December 31st. The Honda USA Foundation launched its annual funding cycle for the 2023 to 2024 funding awards for eligible non-profits—giving back to communities where associates live and work. Similarly, the Nissan Foundation awarded grants to organizations across seven states, including museums, foundations, and cultural learning centers to promote respect and understanding among cultural and ethnic groups. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $13 million to approximately 150 relevant organizations.

In addition to financial donations, international automakers provided cars and equipment to those in need. Toyota Material Handling and Toyota Motor North America donated a custom-built electric forklift to Mom’s Pantry, a Phoenix-based food bank. In Tennessee, Mitsubishi partnered with Charis Health Center to provide a Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle to distribute COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

And finally, those who work for international automakers contributed their time to those who need it the most. Volkswagen’s Military Veterans Employee Resource Group in Chattanooga made care packages to take to the local VA and reserve center stations, while Volvo team members distributed meals to a local food bank. Mazda volunteers worked to maintain the farm fields at the Harvest Solutions Farm, while others worked assembly-line style to make and fill boxes at the Food Bank of North Alabama. Mercedes-Benz also partnered with The Sandwich Project and Open Hands ATL to pack hundreds of meals for community members facing food insecurity. And at Autos Drive America, we decided to support a local D.C. community group this year. Our donation to DC Scores will go towards expanding the award-winning soccer, poetry, and service-learning program to student athletes across Washington, D.C.

International automakers don’t just manufacture the cars that occupy so many of our driveways. They go above and beyond to support the communities in which they are located, providing support to the people who need it the most. This year, I’m thankful for the hard-working employees across our membership that drive American communities both on and off the assembly line.