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Cars Without Borders: Does “Made in America” Really Matter Anymore?

Over 1 million people are expected to attend the New York Auto show, which opens to the public Friday. The show offers a dizzying array of vehicles to be dissected and critiqued by car aficionados, the media and the general public.

Among all the features being dissected, perhaps the least important is whether the car is foreign or domestic.

"It's a delineation without a difference these days," says Jim Resnick, an editor with Yahoo! Autos.

For all the talk about the resurgence of American automakers, "Made in America" is really a matter of marketing. For example, a Honda Accord made and assembled in America has 80% U.S.-sourced parts vs. 65% for a Ford Escape, Resnick notes in the accompanying video, taped at the show earlier this week.

"It's built in America. Designed in America. Marketed in America and sold in America," he says of the Accord. "It's an American car with a Japanese nameplate."

In fact, Resnick notes Honda exports cars made at its plants in Alabama and Ohio from America to 30 other countries. On the other hand, some Ford, GM and Chrysler cars are imported to America from Mexico and Canada.

In an increasingly integrated global economy, the reality is car companies have no borders anymore. Of course, where an automaker is domiciled matters in terms of where the profits from a sale ultimately end up, but U.S. consumers really don't care all that much anymore about where a car is made, or whether the manufacturer is based in America or Asia or Europe, Resnick says.

"When Toyota first starting building trucks in the U.S., people thought there'd be a big resistance against it," he recalls. "In fact, Toyota is building lots of trucks in the U.S. and they're sold everywhere."

While Americans over a certain age (like me) might remember a time when it was important whether your family's car was American-made or not, "that's gone by the wayside," Resnick says.

What do you think?

Stay tuned for more coverage from the show and check out our prior segment: If Not Now, When? It's a Bad Time to Buy a New Car, Edmunds.com CEO Says

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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