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The Economy

What’s an ‘American’ Car?

Workers assemble Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles at the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill., February 2, 2012. (Frank Polich/Reuters)

I’m not too sure about Dmitri’s ode to American cars, because I am not too sure what is an American car. In what sense should a Jeep Compass manufactured in Mexico be thought of as American while a Mercedes GLE made in Alabama isn’t?

The answer cannot be corporate ownership: Both companies have shareholders all over the world; the Alabama-made Mercedes is sold by a company based in Stuttgart; Jeeps are manufactured by an Amsterdam-based company run by Italians with its main financial office in London.

About 65 percent of the components of a Toyota Tundra pickup (made in San Antonio) are of North American origin; fewer than half the contents of a Chevy Silverado (sometimes made in Canada) are. Etc.

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