NASHVILLE -- Baseball fans hate it when an asterisk pops up next to a player's name in the stats. The argument erupts: "Well, are the stats correct or are they not?"
Nissan isn't crazy about asterisks either, or the company might lobby for one on the window sticker of its 2013 electric Leaf.
According to the sticker, the Leaf rates a mere 15 percent North American content.
Which is ridiculous -- however true it may be.
In January, Nissan began assembling the 2013 Leaf in Smyrna, Tenn. The 2012 Leaf had been imported from Japan.
The 2013 version uses American steel, stamped in Tennessee; American-made glass windows and windshields; American made tires, seats, consoles, airbags, paint, plastic trim and bumpers; and an American-made chassis.
Because it is electric, the Leaf has no engine, fuel pump, exhaust system, muffler, gasoline tank, fuel lines or oil filters. But it has an enormous battery module, made up of multiple batteries and all cooked into a single integrated component, representing a significant portion of the car's value. That is also built in Tennessee, as is the electric motor that drives the car's wheels.
And for what it's worth, Nissan invested $1.6 billion in the U.S. factory that assembles the Leaf. And $1.4 billion of that was money loaned to Nissan by the U.S. government under the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.
All of which, somehow, translates under the American Automobile Labeling Act into a car that is 85 percent imported.
The content figure strips out all labor costs and manufacturing overhead. In accordance with the rule book, the level of content is calculated just once a model year.
And for 2013, it was arrived at using a pre-production 2013 Leaf. Because the car's electric motor production line had not started, Nissan had to use a Japanese-made motor in the submitted car.
Other significant pieces of the car are imported, and they are disproportionately expensive -- such as the sheets of electrode materials contained in the battery pack, the car's electronic controls and its driving software.
But all of that other stuff represents just 15 percent local content?
Officially, Nissan is shrugging it off. Just the nature of financial rules, the company says. Buying a component from a U.S. company doesn't necessarily make the content American under the rule book. The analysis also looks at where the supplier obtained the material used in the component.
Rest assured that for the 2014 Leaf, the U.S. content number on the window sticker will be higher, Nissan vows -- at least in the range of other U.S.-built electrified cars.
The all-American Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid shows up as 45 percent domestic content. The Ford Focus Electric comes in at just 40 percent local.
Even those numbers seem misleadingly low.
Somebody needs an asterisk.