What is actually made in America?

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Made in America is making a comeback.

If you ask the guys who run, a popular car analysis site, they’ll tell you that today, one in four Americans care about buying American. Talk to professor Frank Dubois, the author of one of the most cited Made-in-America auto indexes, and he’ll tell you he has never received as much media interest in his page as he is now.

In 2018, Made in America has also taken on new meaning. It’s at the heart of Donald Trump’s economic policy. Don’t make it overseas, don’t use foreign design, don’t use foreign labor. Make it in America.

What’s jeopardizing that vision? Trade.

Last year, Ford almost built a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, then canceled those plans after Trump lambasted the company. But Ford still has plants in countries all over the world. GM, meanwhile, has manufacturing strongholds in both Canada and Mexico.

As these symbols of American industry were steadily marching production overseas, something else was happening: Foreign car manufacturers were coming to America. They were choosing small towns in the south and midwest, and building plants the size of a hundred football fields. They were hiring American workers. And they were building cars that were, by some measures, even more American.

Quartz went to one such factory to see whether Made in America could mean something different in 2018.

Quartz News is a weekly series bringing you in-depth reporting from around the world. Each episode investigates one story, breaking down the often unseen economic and technological forces shaping our future.

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