Are those Made-in-Nebraska Metro cars as Made-in-the-USA as advertised?

Posted by LDonia on 10/11/2012

twitterEarlier this week, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) shared a video showing the new rail cars that will be used in Washington, DC’s Metro system.

We expressed enthusiasm that the cars are being built in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In response, one of our Twitter followers asked if it was a case of a product being assembled in the United States but with foreign parts.

The answer is a bit too complex for 144 characters, so we wanted to write it here. For Buy America preferences, the Federal Transportation Administration says that it requires 60% of the components of each car to be manufactured in the United States, and the new metro cars do meet that.

That said, a July 23, 2010 letter from FTA Chief Counsel Dorval Carter states that the manufacturer, Kawasaki, “estimates the domestic content of the components for the 7000 Series Railcars at 61% for the pilot cars and 69% for the production cars.” This is relatively low compared to other railcars manufactured in the United States. Alstom and Siemens have reportedly submitted bids for projects in California for the BART and Los Angeles County MTA in excess of 90% domestic content, so if the 69% figure for the Kawasaki railcars is correct it leaves much room for improvement.

In the end, it’s fair to say that it’s American-made, but we hope to see higher levels of domestic content in future procurements.

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