Production by foreign-owned automotive firms in the United States provides an opportunity to investigate the co-location of technological advance and manufacturing. While some scholars report that certain foreign firms are transplanting both of these activities to the United States, others are more circumspect. We first identify automotive patents across American metropolitan areas to develop a new taxonomy of automotive invention. Patent ownership is then traced, showing a clear gap between foreign-owned firms’ production in the United States and formation of invention capital. The findings support a hypothesis that globalization of manufacturing noticeably outpaces the spread of invention assets.