Domesticated: The ‘Most American’ Cars And Trucks For 2017 – Forbes
If, like President Trump, you’re a staunch “America First” proponent and are looking to buy a patriotic new car or truck, you might be surprised which are considered the “most American,” specifically with regard to where they’re built, where the parts come from, and where the profits go.
This used to be an easy decision. If one wanted to buy an “American” car, one simply visited one of the “Big Three” Detroit automakers’ showrooms. A Volkswagen or Toyota was simply built in another country, shipped across an ocean, and unashamedly sold as an import. Today the waters are a bit muddied, with Asian and European automakers building cars in the U.S. and some domestic brand-badged models being sourced from other nations. Of the 17.5 million vehicles sold in here in 2016, approximately 65 percent were produced in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires automakers to include data regarding a vehicle’s country of origin, noting on each new car and truck’s so-called “Monroney” price sticker the percentage of U.S./Canadian parts content used, where the vehicle is assembled, and countries of origin for the engine and transmission.
But according to Frank DuBois, an associate professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business, NHTSA’s data doesn’t tell the whole story. Thus, he’s compiled a more-extensive “Made in America Auto Index” for the fifth consecutive year that dives deeper into the data to determine which vehicles from the 2017 model year contribute the most to the U.S. economy. Findings are based on research into the economic value of different components of auto manufacturing that was done by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
For starters, DuBois evaluation separates U.S.-based manufacturing and parts sourcing from that coming from Canada, factors NHTSA combines in determining what it deems domestic content. Sorry, but as much as we have in common with our neighbors to the north, Canada still remains a separate country, and requires a valid passport for U.S. citizens to visit. In addition, the American University study considers where a model’s initial research and development was conducted, and in which country the profits generated by each model ultimately wind up. Under NHTSA’s system, automakers are allowed to round up any percentages over 70 to a full 100, which tends to skew the domestic origin data.
By DuBois’ measure, the top 14 “most American” vehicles for 2017 all come from U.S. brands, with the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, and GMC Acadia crossover SUVs being tied for first place with 85.5% domestic content. You’ll also find such red-while-and-blue-blooded models represented like the Ford F-150 pickup and the venerable Chevy Corvette, which has long been dubbed “America’s sports car.” We’re featuring the 17 “most American” models in the accompanying slideshow; full data for all 2017 vehicles sold in the U.S. can be found here.
The top finishers also include a couple of models from Jeep, which is both one of the most all-American brands on the market, yet is fraught with gray areas in that the nameplate is owned by Fiat Chrysler, which is officially headquartered in the Netherlands, with a tax domicile in London, executives based in both the U.S. and Italy, and its shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The first import-brand models to be found on the list are tied for ninth place, overall, and come from Honda/Acura, Kia, and Toyota, thanks to their extensive domestic manufacturing facilities. Meanwhile, there’s a few otherwise domestic-branded models located much closer to the end of the list, including the Buick Encore crossover SUV and the subcompact Chevrolet Spark four-door hatchback, which are both built in Korea, and the Buick Envision crossover that hails from China.
And because we know you’re curious, the Tesla Model S and Model X are tied for 14th. place in the survey, with an estimated 75% domestic content.