By: James K. Willco, Consumer Reports
Element, a value-priced TV brand you may have noticed during promotional selling times such as Black Friday, is doing something few other TV manufacturers would dare: It’s going to start making its televisions in the U.S.
The company also announced at CES that the new TVs will sport premium sound systems JBL as part of a deal with Harman, JBL’s parent company.
Starting in March, the company will start cranking out TVs from a new flat-screen facility in Detroit, Michigan, making it the only company currently assembling TVs in the United States. While everyone assumes that labor costs here make that prohibitively expensive, Element Electronics is gambling that by shortening the supply chain—the time and cost of bringing fully assembled TVs to the U.S. from China or other offshore factories and suppliers—it can remain cost-competitive while being able to react faster to changing market conditions here in the States.
But there’s also a little patriotic pride in being able to bring work to the U.S. while many other manufacturing-type jobs leave the country, says Element Electronics president Mike O’Shaughnessy, who believes that global economic trends will make American production more viable over time.
The company says it can produce larger-sized LCD TVs, including those with LED backlights, here in the States for about the same price as those made in China. The company will focus on LCD TVs in the 46-, 50-, 65-, and 70-inch screen sizes, with a mix of both CCFL and LED backlights. TV features will include 120/240Hz anti-blur technology, 3D, and Internet capability.
The JBL by Harmon partnership will result in a co-branded TV line with integrated soundbar-style premium sound systems that use JBL drivers designed to create big sound from smaller speakers, the company says.
Element TVs are currently available in storefront retailers such as Target, Walmart ,and Costco retail, as well as through some online retailers and via QVC