Ford Ranger, Jeep Cherokee, Tesla Model S have most American content: study

June 24, 2020

What is the most American car? The Ford Ranger tops the Cars.com 2020 American-Made Index released yesterday, but the answer for other American-made, import-badged vehicles isn't so simple.

The annual study found that Honda has a greater percentage of American-made cars than GM or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is the parent company of iconic American brands such as Jeep, Ram, and Dodge. The Big Three American automakers of Ford, GM, and FCA aren't even as American-made as California electric vehicle maker Tesla.

Now in its 15th year, the AMI determines the American-made qualities of a model based on five factors: location of final assembly, percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts based on the American Automobile Labeling Act, country of origin for both engines and transmissions, and U.S. manufacturing employees relative to the number of cars it produces in the U.S.

Certain production thresholds have to be met for a model to be considered. Models produced in fewer than 1,000 units per year are excluded, as are vehicles that weigh more than 8,500 pounds. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are weighed separately, and typically don't reach the production threshold. 

Consumers are keen to support American, even if their buying habits don't support it. In a May 2020 study of 1,000 U.S. licensed drivers, 70% considered a car's U.S. economic impact a significant or deciding factor in their purchase, according to Cars.com. Yet, just 51% of cars bought in the U.S. are built in the U.S. 

There are some 250 imported models that don't qualify for the AMI. Still, Cars.com identified 91 models from the 2020 model year that were built in America by 13 automakers in more than 30 factories, ranging from Spartanburg, S.C. to Fremont, Calif., with dozens of plants scattered in the Midwest, from Mississippi to Michigan. Automakers and suppliers employ nearly 1 million Americans by companies headquartered in Japan, Germany, South Korea, and the U.S. 

The top 10 most American-made cars of 2020 are:

1. Ford Ranger, assembled in Wayne, Mich.

2. Jeep Cherokee, Belvidere, Ill.

3. Tesla Model S, Fremont, Calif.

4. Tesla Model 3, Fremont, Calif.

5. Honda Odyssey, Lincoln, Ala.

6. Honda Ridgeline, Lincoln, Ala.

7. Honda Passport, Lincoln, Ala.

8. Chevrolet Corvette, Bowling Green, Ky.

9. Tesla Model X, Fremont, Calif.

10. Chevy Colorado, Wentzville, Mo. 

In total, General Motors and its four makes (Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Buick) had 20 models qualify for the survey. Honda and its luxury brand Acura had 14, while Ford had 10, same as Toyota. Tesla had three of its five models rank, yet FCA and its four American brands had only seven models rank. 

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