Irrelevant 'Most-American Car' Ranking Changes Criteria, If Only to Flesh Out Results
While there are some who still proudly use the old slogan “ Buy American,” the concept is only loosely applicable to automobiles. While you can certainly support American brands, every automobile on the road is an amalgamation of parts from all over the world — and has been for quite some time.
This year, the automotive research website Cars.com, which began ranking the country’s “most-American” vehicles in 2006, was forced to change its criteria after only three models qualified under the old system of measurement.
For 2017, Cars.com has added country of engine origin, country of transmission origin, and U.S. factory employment relative to a company’s sales to its previous criteria of American parts content and final assembly location. It was also forced to lower the overall percentage of domestic parts a car needs to qualify by a full fifteen percent — from 75 to 60 percent.
“Even if a car is from a brand headquartered in one place, you have to keep in mind what goes into a vehicle,” Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor of Cars.com, told Bloomberg in an interview. “Automakers ultimately have to build their vehicles based on the numbers.”
Using the updated system, the “ most American” vehicle within the United States was the Jeep Wrangler, built in Toledo, Ohio by the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The Wrangler was followed closely by the Jeep Cherokee and Ford’s Taurus, the latter of which forecaster LMC Automotive believes will move production from Chicago to China after news of the Focus’ far-east exodus broke last week.
The next highest ranked vehicles were the Honda Ridgeline, Acura RDX, Ford F-150, Ford Expedition, GMC Acadia, Honda Odyssey, and Honda — in that order.
While interest in buying American seems to have been bolstered in the wake of President Trump’s election campaign, rising from 13 percent of prospective car buyers in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017, Wiesenfelder suggested most shoppers don’t really care about their car’s country of origin. “Consumers are more interested in the other factors like how well a vehicle meets their needs and how well it fits their family,” he said.
Still, 25 percent is not an insignificant figure and one domestic manufacturers are likely to take note of. Global suppliers may make the physical act of assembling a truly American vehicle an impossibility, but that won’t keep automakers from marketing them that way.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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- Legacygt There is nothing "trapezoidish" about that grill.
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I'm still one of the 25 percenters that thinks it matters, even if it doesn't (or at least is really, really difficult to fully figure out). However, I'm also not clueless as to the fact that many "foreign" cars have more American-produced content than many "Big 3" vehicles do. I attempt to search out those vehicles with a high US content, assembled in the US by US-owned companies. Was a little disappointed to find out that my Ford Escape does not beat with an American heart (engine foreign). Still, I try. And many of the clothes I wear I purchase from places like All-American clothing. Same goes for appliances in the house (that I source them from an American manufacturer, assembled at least in America). Maybe I'm too "get offa my lawn" old and stuck in my desire to support my country, but there it is. I realize that a vast number (75%, apparently) of Americans don't really give a rat's butt where their cars are made...but I'm guessing if one of their family lost a job related to auto assembly, they just might. Then again...GM is selling Envisions and Ford is soon to bring the Focus over from China, so what do I know?
As an engineer, I'd be interested in knowing the domestic "design content" of each vehicle. Anyone know where that kind of data might be available?