2018 Jeep Cherokee tops Cars.com's index of U.S.-made vehicles

by admin June 24, 2018 at 3:02 am

The 2018 Jeep Cherokee has 72 percent domestic-parts content.

The Jeep Cherokee SUV, made in Belvidere, Ill., climbed to No. 1 on Cars.com’s index of American-made vehicles in the 2018 model year from second in 2017, the site said in a new report.

The 2018 Cherokee has 72 percent domestic-parts content and all engines and transmissions from the U.S., Cars.com said in the report released Thursday.

Japanese automaker Honda’s Odyssey minivan and Ridgeline pickup, both made in Lincoln, Ala., took this year’s second and third spots in the “most-American” index with high domestic content and U.S.-sourced drivetrains.

The Cars.com index shows that many foreign automakers produce vehicles with higher domestic content than those made by the Detroit 3.

After the Cherokee, Odyssey and Ridgeline, the Chicago-built Ford Taurus ranked No. 4 this year. The Detroit-made Chevrolet Volt capped the top five vehicles with 66 percent domestic-parts content.

Presidential pressure

President Donald Trump has pressured automakers to create more jobs in the U.S. and has threatened to increase tariffs on imported vehicles.

Cars.com noted that vehicles made by General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are often built elsewhere. For example, Ford assembles Ford Fusion midsize sedans in Mexico, while GM makes Chevrolet Equinox compact crossovers in Mexico and Canada. GM’s Buick Envision compact crossover has a domestic-parts content rating of 2 percent for some versions and is assembled in China.

“I think this really only cements the fact that there is not a one-size-fits-all tariff that works to bring jobs back to the U.S.,” AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan wrote in an email. “The Jeep Wrangler used to be at the top of the list and the new model doesn’t even show up in the top 10 now. [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials] made the sourcing decisions for the new Wrangler to meet their profit targets. Has the increased global content of the Wrangler slowed sales in the U.S.? Not at all.”

Sullivan said automotive market changes have influenced foreign and domestic production.

“We have over 300 nameplates available in the U.S. and this is just the top 10,” he wrote. “The president has been critical of final assembly choices and steel use but hasn’t really looked deeper into why parts content has moved offshore. We are in a very different market than we were 40 years ago. President Trump’s views of the U.S. automotive scene seem to be obsolete.”

Still, a Cars.com survey found 28 percent of respondents would only consider an American manufacturer when buying a vehicle, and 82 percent of respondents believe buying American-made vehicles will create more jobs in the U.S.

The survey of more than 1,000 licensed drivers found 83 percent of respondents named assembly location as an important factor in determining economic impact. On the other hand, more than seven in 10 respondents said other factors surpass economic impact when making a purchase decision, and nearly three in 10 care “only a little or not at all about economic impact.”

Changes in metrics

Cars.com changed its index metrics last year as globalization of the supply chain meant only three nameplates could have qualified with the original criteria — down from 60 qualifying vehicles when the index launched. 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 that measured assembly location and domestic parts content.

The Jeep Wrangler, made by FCA in Toledo, Ohio, topped the index for the 2017 model year, followed by the Cherokee and Taurus.

Cars.com, an online car research site, started ranking the “most-American” cars and trucks more than 10 years ago. Using criteria including assembly location, domestic-parts content as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act, engine sourcing, transmission sourcing and factory jobs provided by each automaker’s U.S. plants determine American-Made Index eligibility.

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