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Communities and People: The Heart of the Japanese Auto Industry in the U.S.

By Alex Willis, Senior Manager, Industry Affairs

With Thanksgiving behind us, we are getting closer to holidays, festive gatherings with friends and family and the hope and excitement that comes with ringing in a new year. And it’s during this season of thanks and reflection, when we at JAMA USA like to recognize our members’ impact on the communities around the country they call home. Japanese-brand automakers and their employees’ tireless efforts to connect with and improve their communities is something they prioritize year-round.

For all of JAMA’s members, dedication to their communities is a legacy they’ve nurtured over the course of a nearly 60-year presence in the U.S. In 2022, the Nissan Foundation celebrated its 30-year anniversary, and celebrated and deepened their own legacy through a round of grants totaling nearly $850,000 while also benefiting 33 different programs focused on promoting cultural understanding and fostering diversity from Southern California all the way to Central Mississippi. Similar stories have played out across the country as our members work diligently to uplift the areas around them through various resources and programs. From the dealership network to the manufacturing facilities, Japanese-brand automakers deeply value their role in enriching their local communities and the U.S. economy.

For example, food insecurity is a growing concern for families across the country as the economic uncertainty of the last several years takes its toll. The Mazda Foundation works through organizations like Bracken’s Kitchen, where they not only feed those in need but also help train at-risk youth with the skills they need to work in professional restaurant settings. Similarly, the Subaru of Indiana foundation has provided a number of grants this year to organizations that work to feed their communities like SUPER School in Marion Country Indiana or Felix’s Pantry in Cass County Indiana. Both grants specifically help address food insecurity among children. 

Providing health services also remain an issue for communities around the U.S. as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Japanese-brand automakers are fulfilling critical needs in this space through health programs like Honda’s Healthy Haralson initiative. Healthy Haralson provided $100,000 to the local health system around Honda’s Georgia transmission plant in order to ensure that rural Georgians had access to adequate health care. Similarly, Mitsubishi Motors’ Small Batch Big Impact provided the Charis Health Center with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle through their Community Utility Vehicle (CUV) Program. Doctors used the vehicle to access patients in need, to assist with health clinics, and as a mobile vaccination vehicle, which helped doctors administer COVID and flu vaccines to nearly 3,000 families in rural Tennessee.

This dedication to community also manifests through environmental stewardship. This year Toyota kicked off a multi-year effort in partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation that will transform the Harvest Square Nature Preserve in North Alabama to an inclusive park where people in the community can gather, learn, and recreate. These examples, as impactful as they are, represent only a portion of the time and talent that JAMA member companies and their employees have provided to their communities throughout the year.

As we close out 2022 and begin to look ahead, we see not only a new year but new opportunities for Japanese-brand automakers to deepen this legacy of commitment to the communities where they operate. And not too far on the horizon we look forward to welcoming new communities into the JAMA family as our members embrace an electrified future and open new facilities like Toyota’s battery production facility in North Carolina and Honda’s joint venture battery manufacturing facility in Ohio. We look forward to honoring the heartfelt ways that Japanese-brand automakers demonstrate their continued commitment to communities throughout the U.S. in 2023 and beyond!

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