It takes a lot to put together an automobile these days. The process might involve corporations based overseas with U.S. factories making cars that have parts sourced from Canada and Mexico. Or it might involve cars with American brand names built in Mexico with parts sourced overseas. In other words, calling a car “American” isn’t what it used to be.
The Made in America Auto Index, published annually by Frank Dubois of American University’s Kogod School of Business, attempts to reconcile these factors in a satisfying way. Among the many lessons learned in reviewing DuBois’s work, we see how a Toyota Camry is more worthy of the “American” label than that warrior of the rugged road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
First, we take a look at the points each vehicle put on the board. The Made in America index factors in production sites for the body, interior, chassis, and electrical work of the car (50%); site of engine production (14%); source of inventory and capital for the vehicle’s assembly (11%); site of transmission production (7%); source of labor (6%); site of research and development (6%); and where profits finally land, here or abroad (6%).
Based on this complex formula, Toyota Camry landed a score of 78.5 to the Grand Cherokee’s 76.5. The scores are close, certainly, but the perception of Jeep as all things American gets dinged in this comparison, even with the Fiat takeover of The Chrysler Group in recent years. According to the work by Dubois and his research team, the source of body and chassis components is the main reason Camry is more American than Jeep Grand Cherokee.