To support the U.S. economy, the thinking is to buy American products, but in truth it’s become much more difficult to discern just what’s an American product, especially when it comes to new cars.
That’s where Cars.com’s American-Made Index can help. Now in its 12th year, the American-Made Index is an analysis of cars built in the U.S. to find out which ones have the greatest impact on the U.S. economy. To do this, Cars.com analyzes more than 100 cars that are built in America and looks at each car’s domestic-parts content, country of origin for its engine and transmission, assembly plant location and factory workforce.
For 2018, the most-American car on Cars.com’s American-Made Index is the Jeep Cherokee, a small SUV that’s made in Belvidere, Ill. Jeep, an iconic American brand with beginnings traced to World War II, is owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
FCA is an example of today’s modern automaker: Thanks to Fiat’s purchase of Chrysler in 2009 (post-recession and Chrysler bankruptcy), this well-known American automaker also has Dodge, Ram and Jeep under its wings — but it has Italian roots and corporate headquarters in London. Talk about global.
The Italian-American Jeep Cherokee jumped to the top of the 2018 American-Made Index thanks in part to its 72 percent domestic-parts content as well as U.S. sourcing for its engines and nine-speed transmission.
The second and third most-American cars on the American-Made Index are from Japan-based automaker Honda: The 2018 Honda Odyssey minivan rolled into second place and the 2018 Honda Ridgeline pickup truck came in third. Again, high domestic-parts content and U.S.-sourced drivetrains helped move these vehicles into prominent positions.
In a Cars.com survey of more than 1,000 licensed drivers, 15 percent of respondents said the Honda Odyssey is built in the U.S. and 14 percent said the Honda Ridgeline was manufactured in America. Both the Odyssey, Ridgeline and Honda Pilot, which is No. 6 on the 2018 American-Made Index, are built in Lincoln, Ala.
Honda racked up one more spot on the American-Made Index with its luxury brand, Acura. The 2018 Acura MDX, a three-row SUV, nabbed the No. 7 spot. It’s built in East Liberty, Ohio. In Cars.com’s survey, only 7 percent of respondents said the MDX was built in America.
According to 43 percent of survey respondents, a car substantially contributes to the U.S. economy when it’s built in the U.S. and the automaker is headquartered in America. That can be a tall order for some models: GM’s Buick Envision, a mid-size SUV, is made in China and exported to the U.S. Mexico is the home of the assembly plant for the Ford Fusion, a mid-size sedan, while Mexico and Canada both have assembly plants for the Chevrolet Equinox.
The impact of the auto industry on the U.S. economy cannot be overstated during these, ahem, interesting times of tariff threats and North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations. The 2018 American-Made Index reinforces the importance of cars on the U.S. economy at both the national and local level.
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