The Automotive Performance Index (API) is developed using the scientific principles of ecological economics, where social, environmental and economic considerations are all equally important in determining overall value. This transdisciplinary field examines the relationship between ecological and economic systems, realizing that sustained economic activity is fully reliant on a resilient ecological system to provide natural, social and human capital. Ensuring that economic activity does not undermine the resource capacity of our natural environment requires careful considerations to ensure costs are not externalized (otherwise not accounted for) to the environment, to the labor force and to their communities.

The Standard, from which the API derives, is based on thousands of social, environmental and economic data points to ensure the API delivers meaningful automotive performance ratings. The API equips buyers with the information they need to make responsible purchasing decisions in our 21st century globalized economy, with care for the people tasked with vehicle assembly; with care for the natural environment in which our resources derive; and with care for the consumer's own personal financial well-being.