CHICAGO—The Tesla Model 3, made in Fremont, CA, is the most American-made vehicle for 2021, according to a study conducted by the Cars.com website. It’s the first time Tesla has topped the list, and also the first time an all-electric vehicle has come in at No. 1.
The annual list ranks the new vehicles that contribute most to the U.S. economy based on criteria ranging from U.S. factory jobs to parts sourcing. Five factors contribute to the ranking: assembly plant location; parts sourcing as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act; U.S. factory employment relative to vehicle production; engine sourcing; and transmission sourcing.
“Tesla has now cemented itself firmly on [our] American Made-Index (AMI), with the Model 3 and the Model Y taking the No. 1 and No. 3 spots, respectively,” says Kelsey Mays, assistant managing editor and lead researcher on the project. “The 2021 AMI arrives against a backdrop of scarce inventory amid a microchip shortage and heightened consumer demand.
“Despite this, there remains a high consumer focus on buying American-made vehicles as the economy is still emerging from the effects of the pandemic,” explains Mays. “For those interested in making the biggest impact here, the index gives shoppers a way to purchase the most American-made vehicle.”
Other vehicles ranking high on the list include the Ford Mustang (No. 2), which is assembled in Flat Rock, MI, and the Jeep Cherokee, built in Belvidere, IL. In addition, four Honda vehicles assembled in Lincoln, AL, rank in the top 10.
Out of 344 models on the market for 2021, a total of 90 models qualified for this year's AMI. General Motors leads the way with 19 cars on the index, followed by Honda (13), Toyota (12) and Ford (11). Nearly 50 percent of the vehicles are SUVs, followed by sedans or hatchbacks (28 percent) and pickup trucks (17 percent).
According to Mays, 72 percent of consumers consider a car’s U.S. economic impact a significant or deciding factor in their vehicle purchase, which is 2 percentage points higher than in 2020.
“Even as the pandemic threat begins to wane, a third of respondents in 2021 still say COVID-19 has made them more likely to buy an American-built vehicle,” says Mays. “Up from just a quarter of respondents in 2020, 29 percent this year say that it’s ‘unpatriotic’ to purchase a non-American-made vehicle.”