CHICAGO—Tesla Inc. produces the “most American” vehicles, according to the 18th annual Cars.com American-Made Index (AMI). The automaker swept the top four spots. However, Honda also performed well, taking five of the top 10 spots. Volkswagen is the only other automaker in the top 10, coming in at No. 6 overall.
A team of experts evaluated more than 380 vehicles, analyzing how they contribute to the U.S. economy for manufacturing, parts sourcing and employment. The AMI ranks cars based on five factors: assembly location, parts sourcing as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act, U.S. factory employment relative to vehicle production, engine sourcing and transmission sourcing.
"The trends in this year's AMI reflect shifting consumer preferences,” says Jenni Newman, Cars.com editor in chief. “Only two sedans, Tesla's Model 3 and Model S, appear in the top 10, largely replaced by SUVs, now comprising almost 60 percent of the full list.
"EVs, too, have experienced a meteoric rise since the first electrified vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, made its only AMI top 10 appearance just five years ago,” explains Newman. “Half of the top 10 are EVs this year, and roughly one in every five vehicles on the full list comes electrified."
According to a Cars.com consumer survey, about half of shoppers claim they will pay more for a vehicle that creates U.S. jobs, with the number of Americans willing to pay an additional 30 percent or more to support U.S. jobs, almost doubling year over year.
In 2022, 14 percent of respondents believed a manufacturer must be headquartered in the U.S. to qualify as “substantially contributing to the U.S. economy.” That number rose to 24 percent this year.
That’s good news for traditional domestic automakers like General Motors, which has the most models appearing on the AMI, and Ford, tied for second. However, Ford and Chevrolet are notably absent from the top rankings for the first time in the AMI's almost two-decade history.
Last year's No. 3, Ford's Lincoln Corsair, is the 2023 index's highest-ranking vehicle manufactured by a U.S.-based automaker that isn't Tesla. But, it fell to No. 16 this year because of a drop in its domestic parts.
"Tesla debuted on the index just three years ago, but with headquarters and significant operations in the U.S., its rise shuffled the deck, displacing many traditional domestic manufacturers," Newman points out. "More notably, we are seeing foreign-based manufacturers like Honda and Toyota move production to the U.S., particularly the South, challenging Americans' definitions of what constitutes 'American-made' and driving many of the changes in the AMI since last year."
Just over half of the 2023 AMI vehicles were assembled in the South. Alabama is second only to Michigan in factory representation on this year's index.