This month’s news of Ford Focus production shifting to China was met with only muted dismay, but in an age of truly global production lines how much of the Focus was “American” to begin with? The Focus didn’t even break into the top 10 of Cars.com’s 2017 list of the most American cars made, well before its departure for the Middle Kingdom was announced.
In fact, the annual American-Made Index criteria received its first-ever revision this year, due to the increasingly global nature of car production: Cars.com had to change the way it calculates the list in response to ever-dropping percentages of domestically-produced components.
“Over the AMI’s 11-year history, the number of models meeting our original criteria has fallen due to the globalization of automobile manufacturing — from more than 60 vehicles in the AMI’s inaugural year to eight last year,” the researchers said. “By the original requirements, only three 2017 models would have qualified this year.”
The revised criteria is based on variables such as domestic-parts content, U.S. manufacturing jobs supported per vehicle and U.S. sourcing for engines and transmissions, with the Index now de-emphasizing overall sales — the economic impact of a particular model line is less of a factor now. The five main factors for the current index are: domestic parts content, assembly location, U.S. factory employment adjusted by sales to reflect how many employees each sale supports, engine origin and transmission origin. One new variable is the weight given to the domestic impact of a U.S. buyer purchasing one vehicle model over another, which favors local labor impact for any given vehicle.
These are the 10 most American vehicles of 2017, according to Cars.com methodology:
1. Jeep Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited (Toledo, Ohio)
2. Jeep Cherokee (Toledo, Ohio and Belvidere, Ill.)
3. Ford Taurus (Chicago)
4. Honda Ridgeline (Lincoln, Ala.)
5. Acura RDX (East Liberty, Ohio)
6. Ford F-150 (Dearborn, Mich., and Claycomo, Mo.)
7. Ford Expedition (Louisville, Ky.)
8. GMC Acadia (Spring Hill, Tenn.)
9. Honda Odyssey (Lincoln, Ala.)
10. Honda Pilot (Lincoln, Ala.)
As you can see, only six of the 10 come from originally American marques, though the “locally sourced” Honda and Acura models, among others, scored higher marks than a vast number of other vehicles made by manufacturers founded in the U.S. (Don’t forget that a good number of Chrysler models are made over the border in Canada.) And of course, the top-two vehicles on this list are also products of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, an Italian conglomerate, so there is a debatable element of current corporate ownership, as well.
Gallery: 2017 GMC Acadia first drive: A lighter shade of crossover