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Most American-made car brand? Tesla, Honda dominate top 20 list

  • The South has usurped Detroit as home to the most American-made cars
  • EVs account for 4 out of the top 10 most American-made cars
  • Honda and Acura manufacture 9 out of the top 20 most American-made cars

Where do babies come from? Explaining this answer to a curious child is far easier than answering the dauntingly complex question of where does my car come from? Surely a Jeep Wrangler or a Chevy Colorado or the bestselling-most-American-of-American-icons Ford F-150 are as American as apple pie and cheating in baseball? Yeah, not so much. If only a stork could deliver us new cars.

An annual deep dive by Cars.com called the “American-Made Index” (AMI) was released on Tuesday and nearly half of the top 20 cars listed as most American-made were manufactured by Honda and its luxury imprint, Acura. The index attempts to address the question of not only where does my car come from but also, more pointedly, how much of my car was made in America and, less clearly, how much of what I spend on a car benefits Americans?

The 19th year of the AMI analyzes more than 400 new cars on sale as 2024 models based on Cars.com new car inventory and an in-person audit of nationwide dealers. The index does not factor in sales volume, so it’s not an assessment of auto sales on the domestic economy as a whole. The Ford F-Series, led by the F-150, remains the bestselling vehicle in America, and thus has an outsized effect on the domestic economy that isn’t fully quantified by the AMI.

Instead, the index provides a touchstone in the murky field of where the money of a new car purchase goes, and who it benefits. The methodology includes location of assembly, percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts (including engines and transmissions), and the effect on the domestic manufacturing workforce. 

It’s a hotter topic this year than in years past, especially as the criteria for the federal EV tax credit constricts to favor domestic production and assembly, and as the Biden administration hikes tariffs on Chinese imports: the hike on Chinese EVs in particular goes from 25 to 100%. It’s an election year, after all. 

“Over the last year, domestic manufacturing was thrust into the spotlight by the recent United Auto Workers organizing efforts and continues to be a hot topic with the impending presidential election,” said Patrick Masterson, lead researcher for Cars.com’s American-Made Index. “When it comes to the global automotive industry, the badge on the hood doesn’t always reveal a vehicle’s economic contributions. In fact, 66% of vehicles on Cars.com’s 2024 American-Made Index come from foreign automakers that support communities in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.”

The question of American-made affects in-market car shoppers, or so they say. Of the 1,003 responses fielded last month for a Cars.com survey on the AMI, 56% of respondents said they want to buy an American-made car. Of those, more than half said they’d be willing to pay at least 10% more for a new vehicle if it helped contribute to or creates American jobs.

Those jobs have migrated from Detroit, the long-time epicenter of American automotive manufacturing, to the South. More than half of the top 100 on the AMI were assembled in the South, with Alabama leading the way, versus 45% in the Midwest. Between automakers, dealers, aftermarket suppliers, repair shops, and other automotive adjacent businesses, there are 5.4 million workers in the U.S. automotive industry, according to Cars.com.

2024 American-Made Index top 10 manufacturing facilities, Cars.com

The leader in making American cars remains Tesla, with three of its models in the top 10, and the Model 3 set at 21st (the Cybertruck was not included in the evaluation due to not enough sales data). Headquartered in Austin, Texas, and with factories there and in Fremont, Calif., it’s the only automaker in the index that has 100% of its U.S. sales come from domestic manufacturing. Yet, the Model 3 dropped out of the top 10 for the first time due to changes to Cars.com “workforce calculations” for Tesla, as well as to it’s parts content calculation.

Honda and Acura took nine out of the top 20 models due to its plants in Alabama and Ohio. 

Here’s a look at the rankings. 

What are the top 20 most American-made cars?

  1. Tesla Model Y: manufactured in Fremont, Calif., and Austin, Texas

  2. Honda Passport: Lincoln, Ala.
  3. Volkswagen ID.4: Chattanooga, Tenn.
  4. Tesla Model S: Fremont, Calif.
  5. Honda Odyssey: Lincoln, Ala.
  6. Honda Ridgeline: Lincoln, Ala.
  7. Toyota Camry: Georgetown, Ky.
  8. Jeep Gladiator: Toledo, Ohio
  9. Tesla Model X: Fremont, Calif.
  10. Lexus TX: Princeton, Ind.
  11. Toyota Highlander: Princeton, Ind.
  12. Acura RDX: East Liberty, Ohio
  13. Honda Accord: Marysville, Ohio
  14. Honda Pilot: Lincoln, Ala.
  15. Acura MDX: East Liberty, Ohio
  16. Toyota Grand Highlander: Princeton, Ind.
  17. Acura Integra: Marysville, Ohio
  18. Acura TLX: Marysville, Ohio
  19. Ram 1500 Classic: Warren, Mich.
  20. Toyota Tundra: San Antonio, Texas

How many cars are considered to be American-made?

The 401 models sold in the U.S. for the 2024 model year account for derivatives, such as as the F-150 counting separately from the F-150 Lightning due to different factories. It also excludes models that didn’t sell enough models to qualify, such as those from Rivian and Lucid, or newer models with incomplete sales data, such as the Tesla Cybertruck. 

Of the 401 models, 134 are produced in the U.S. Another 15 models have split production between domestic and imported lines, while the majority, or 252 models, are imported. 

American-Made Index methodology

The in-depth study included an analysis of 165,000 new vehicles in inventory, according to the Cars.com database, as well as in-person audits at 700 dealerships nationwide. The analyzed vehicles were weighted on a 100-point scale broken down into the following five categories, though Cars.com would not disclose the formula for the weighting.

  • Location of final assembly
  • Percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts
  • Country of origins for available engines
  • Country of origins for available transmissions
  • Effect on U.S. manufacturing workforce 

For the full list, visit Cars.com.

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