Online car research site Cars.com, which began ranking the "most-American" cars and trucks more than a decade ago, had to change its metrics this year as globalization of the supply chain means only three models could have qualified using the original criteria. That's down from more than 60 vehicles when the index launched in 2006.
“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, said in an interview. “Automakers ultimately have to build their vehicles based on the numbers.”
Whether President Donald Trump likes it or not, the definition of “made in America” has been undergoing some changes, especially in the auto industry. While the Trump administration has pushed car companies to manufacture more in the U.S., many of the parts makers are already located in Mexico and other low-cost countries. Integrated supply chains and efforts to cut costs have made the auto industry’s globalization “irreversible,” Wiesenfelder said.
This year, Cars.com added three criteria — country of engine origin, country of transmission origin and U.S. factory employment relative to the company’s sales footprint — to its original criteria measuring domestic parts content and assembly location. It also lowered the percentage of domestic parts that a car needed to be able to qualify to 60 percent from 75 percent.
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