2023 AMERICAN-MADE INDEX From CARS.COM - TESLA LANDS TOP SPOTS
CHICAGO (June 21, 2023); Vehicle Shopping Site Cars.com today revealed the 100 vehicles on its 18th annual American-Made Index. Cars.com’s automotive experts independently evaluate vehicles contributing the most to the U.S. economy for manufacturing, parts sourcing and employment. In this year’s AMI, electric vehicle automaker Tesla took the top spot for the third year and swept the first four spots. Honda held strong again, adding clout with appearances from its luxury brand Acura. Newcomer Volkswagen is making its debut in the index’s top 10. The complete list is available below..
“The trends in this year’s AMI reflect shifting consumer preferences. Only two sedans, Tesla’s Model 3 and Model S, appear in the top 10, largely replaced by SUVs, now comprising almost 60% of the full list,” said Jenni Newman, Cars.com editor-in-chief. “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. Half of the top 10 are EVs this year, and roughly 1 in every 5 vehicles on the full list comes electrified.”
Consumers Want American-Made, Even If it Costs 30% More
A thriving automotive industry stimulates the economy in a variety of ways, from local dealerships to aftermarket parts and repair. According to a Cars.com consumer survey, about half of shoppers say they will pay more for a vehicle that creates U.S. jobs, with the number of Americans willing to pay an additional 30% or more to support U.S. jobs, almost doubling year over year.1 But what does it mean to buy American?
In 2022, 14% 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% this year, good news for mainstream U.S. automakers like GM, which has the most models appearing on the AMI, and Ford, tied for second. Still, Ford and GM’s Chevrolet are notably absent from the top rankings for the first time in the AMI’s almost two-decade history. Besides Tesla, no U.S.-headquartered automaker appears until No. 33. 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, and 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,” said Newman. “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.”
2023 AMI Honorees Show Southern Migration From Midwest
Just over half of the 2023 AMI vehicles were assembled in the South, which now has automotive manufacturing and assembly operations to rival the Midwest and Detroit’s mantle as Motor City. The South recently gained plants in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas and Alabama, which as a state, is second only to Michigan in factory representation on this year’s index.
This year, the AMI consideration set comprises 388 vehicles. Only 100 made the cut, however, receiving a coveted AMI badge on their Cars.com vehicle display pages; this designation makes “American-Made” status clear during consumers’ Cars.com shopping experience.
|Rank||Make/Model||U.S. Assembly Location|
|1.||Tesla Model Y||Fremont, Calif, Austin, TX|
|2.||Tesla Model 3||Fremont, Calif.|
|3.||Tesla Model X||Fremont, Calif.|
|4.||Tesla Model S||Fremont, Calif.|
|5.||Honda Passport||Lincoln, Ala.|
|6.||Volkswagen ID.4||Chattanooga, Tenn.|
|7.||Honda Odyssey||Lincoln, Ala.|
|8.||Acura MDX||East Liberty, Ohio|
|9.||Honda Ridgeline||Lincoln, Ala.|
|10.||Acura RDX||East Liberty, Ohio|
Is an American-Made Car ‘Born,’ ‘Bred’ or Both?
Owned by Netherlands-based Stellantis, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe had the largest jump from last year’s list, moving up 39 places to No. 30 after shifting engine manufacturing operations from Italy to the U.S. Toyota and Honda, tied with Ford for the second-most vehicles on the list, also moved domestic parts, engine and transmission production to the U.S. On the other hand, the Ford Bronco dropped 65 places owing to a significant decrease in composite domestic parts content.
Asked to rank the “most American” vehicles, survey respondents cite the Ford F-150, Chevy Corvette and Ford Mustang, which appear on the AMI at Nos. 38, 19 and 72, respectively. Aside from Tesla in the top four, U.S. automakers first appear in the rankings with Ford (Lincoln Corsair, No. 16) and GM (Chevy Corvette, No. 19).
Cars.com’s American-Made Index 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. For more information on the 2023 Cars.com American-Made Index, including a deeper dive into the data and methodology, visit Cars.com/AMI.
1Cars.com Consumer Survey, May 24-30, 2023; 1,013 respondents
By Patrick MastersonFor the fourth time in its 18-year history, Cars.com’s American-Made Index ranks all qualifying vehicles built and bought in the U.S. for 2023 — and what tops the list is clearer than ever to see. For the third year on the trot, Tesla holds firm atop the list; for the second year in a row, its Model Y SUV leads the way; and for the first time, the Texas-based automaker has swept the index, with its entire lineup locking out the top four.
The latest study follows the same basic guidelines of 2020-22 and this year hits 100 vehicles on a list judged through five criteria: assembly location, parts content, engine origin, transmission origin and U.S. manufacturing workforce. Ultimately, Cars.com vetted 388 vehicles to arrive at the 100 that made the index.
Behind Tesla’s quartet lies the Honda Passport SUV, dropping one spot from 2022; a fresh face to the list in the form of the Volkswagen ID.4 all-electric SUV at No. 6; and four vehicles from parent automaker Honda to close out the top 10: the Odyssey minivan and Ridgeline pickup truck at Nos. 7 and 9, respectively, and the MDX and RDX SUVs from Honda’s luxury arm Acura at Nos. 8 and 10, respectively.
How did other models fare for 2023? Read on to find out.
All cars above are ranked for the 2023 model year, with assembly locations current as of April 2023. For nameplates that include both gas-only and substantially electrified versions (e.g., Ford F-150, F-150 hybrid and F-150 Lightning), each variant is rated separately.
A substantial year-over-year boost in employment at its plant in Austin, Texas — where the No. 1-ranked Model Y is produced — aided all Teslas in our workforce calculations and ultimately lifted the Model X and Model S, lagging of yesteryear, to complete the sweep.
The appearance of multiple Hondas won’t come as a surprise to followers of the index. The automaker continues to feature prominently thanks to the Odyssey, Passport, Pilot and Ridgeline — all of which are built in Alabama. Its Ohio plants are well represented in the top 15 by the Acura MDX, RDX and TLX, as well as by the Honda Accord. It’s also worth once again noting the Passport’s overall U.S. and Canadian parts content of 75% — a requirement of the original AMI and a bar many models once met. It’s a struggle for most vehicles in 2023 to hit even 60%.
That parts content mix is a key reason behind this year’s outlier at the top, the Volkswagen ID.4. After its model-year 2021 debut as a German-made vehicle, production shifted for examples sold in the U.S. to VW’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., replacing space on the line once held by the Passat sedan. With some (but, unlike the Passport, not all) variants of the ID.4 hitting 75% U.S. and Canadian parts content, plus powertrains credited entirely to the U.S. (more on that in a minute), the ID.4 settles comfortably at the sharp end in its first appearance.
Electrifying America, Slowly
Though hardly breaking news, the 2023 index is a snapshot of an evolving industry amid a gradual but steady move toward electrification. In 2022, hybrid and all-electric models made up 14 of the AMI’s 95 vehicles (15%); this year, there are 14 in the top 60 alone and 22 in total (22%). More are on the way from many automakers, which are either adjusting assembly lines to accommodate electrified vehicles (Polestar reportedly plans to make the 3 in South Carolina, for example) or building entirely new facilities dedicated to their manufacture (as in Toyota’s new North Carolina plant, which will produce lithium-ion batteries for the company’s future battery-electric offerings). They’ll need them, too: Recent Cars.com surveys indicated some 39% of in-market shoppers polled were considering an EV, and 50% of respondents would consider an EV or hybrid if they were to purchase in the next year. The demand is there.
One conspicuous EV absence from our list is Rivian. The company’s Normal, Ill., manufacturing plant makes the R1S SUV and R1T pickup truck — but because both vehicles’ lowest gross vehicle weight ratings exceed the 8,500-pound maximum required to comply with American Automobile Labeling Act reporting, Rivian isn’t subject to those regulations of sourcing. You can read more about why those components are crucial to our rankings in the section below.
The R1S and R1T aren’t alone. The GMC Hummer EV pickup exceeds Class 1 weight limits, and the Hummer EV SUV and Chevrolet Silverado EV likely will, as well. We’ve speculated the forthcoming Ram 1500 REV and Tesla Cybertruck will end up that heavy, too. Indeed, even the Ford F-150 Lightning ranked No. 38 on this year’s list only just slips under the weight limit. Battery technology may well improve, but for some of the largest vehicles on the road that just so happen to be the most popular body styles available, current reporting on where all that material is coming from is lacking.
And not without reason. AALA guidelines were established in the wake of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that date back to 1975, when pickup trucks were mostly confined to work sites and SUVs were practically nonexistent. As vehicles on a whole continue to grow in size, will rules around window stickers change? Will that 8,500-pound threshold shift with it to require better reporting of automakers inclined to go the heavier (for now) electric route? Like a lot else with the auto industry in 2023, the answers are in flux — but until they’re resolved, our index excludes them as we always have. More crucially, if you’re shopping for a big SUV or pickup and buying both American and electric is important to you, be prepared not to have the easy visibility of a window sticker that details where a vehicle’s most significant components are made. The legwork is on the consumer.
Under the AMI Hood
Cars.com’s American-Made Index ranks vehicles built and bought in the U.S. for the 2023 model year. We consider five major factors:
- Location(s) of final assembly
- Percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts
- Countries of origin for all available engines
- Countries of origin for all available transmissions
- S. manufacturing workforce
While we don’t reveal the weighting and calculation methodology, each factor is essential, as are a number of disqualifiers explained below. Models are ranked on a 100-point scale, with heavier curb weights functioning as a tiebreaker when necessary.
Final assembly location(s)
Perhaps the most important factor for index qualification is final assembly at one of 48 U.S. plants run by 14 major automaker groups and their subsidiaries that currently mass-produce light-duty passenger vehicles. (We adopt the Federal Highway Administration’s definition of light-duty vehicles, which allows for up to 10,000 pounds’ gross vehicle weight rating. Note that this classification is separate from the EPA’s classification system, which rates light-duty vehicles up to 8,500 pounds and is why HD trucks don’t get fuel economy ratings or more detailed assembly information.) But automakers run scores of additional plants for powertrains, castings, stampings, batteries and other vehicle parts, while third-party suppliers run additional facilities beyond that. And just because a model may be made in a U.S. assembly plant doesn’t necessarily mean it’s exclusively made here. We account for that with scoring reductions for imported volume.
Percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts
This component employs data from the American Automobile Labeling Act, which has been in effect since 1994 and requires automakers to report the overall percentage of U.S. and Canadian content, by value, for most vehicles they sell. Some automakers report a single percentage per given model sold; others break out unique percentages by powertrain, trim level or assembly location. In such cases, the AMI employs sales-weighted averages for the score.
Combining Canadian and U.S. parts content is a flaw we can’t reverse-engineer, but a clear advantage is that unlike other leading systems rating domestic automotive content — e.g., calculations for regional value content under trade agreements or delineations for import versus domestic cars in fuel-economy mandates — the AALA makes this information more legible to the consumer. The act requires automakers disclose this percentage on window stickers or nearby placards for most new vehicles not yet sold (though we’ve come across dealerships that don’t comply).
While automakers don’t furnish U.S. versus Canadian parts content and public data don’t exist to distinguish each, we compensate by factoring in engine and transmission origins to more accurately identify two major cost-intensive components of each vehicle.
Countries of origin for all available engines
The AALA mandates automakers report the country of origin for all available engines and transmissions, but it can get complex — a nameplate might have one available engine from one country but another from a different country, or a model might feature the same battery option otherwise indistinguishable to the consumer that’s sourced from two different countries. As with U.S. and Canadian parts content, the AMI applies sales-weighted scoring to account for the variances.
Countries of origin for all available transmissions
The process plays out similarly among transmissions, another AALA requirement. For example, the same transmission can come from one or another country, depending on the car. Here, too, the index applies weighted scores as needed.
U.S. manufacturing workforce
The AALA doesn’t focus on labor value, especially in a vehicle’s final assembly. Thus, we analyze each automaker’s direct U.S. workforce involved in the manufacture of light-duty vehicles and their parts, factored against that automaker’s U.S. output relative to the industry, to determine its workforce factor.
There are also factors accounted for to disqualify vehicles. Regardless of assembly location, these vehicles are ineligible:
- Models with a gross vehicle weight rating above 8,500 pounds — mostly full-size vans, three-quarter- and 1-ton pickup trucks, and larger commercial vehicles — which are exempt from AALA requirements.
- Models from automakers that build fewer than 1,000 cars in a given model year. Such cars are exempt from certain AALA requirements.
- Models set for imminent discontinuation, or production moving outside the U.S., without a clear U.S.-built successor.
- Models not yet on sale at the time of the study (in this case, spring 2023) even if they’re from the current model year.
- Models intended solely for government or commercial fleets.
- Models that don’t meet minimum sales or inventory thresholds. (Such thresholds cover roughly 98% of all passenger vehicle sales, so exclusions here are minimal.)
- Models for which we cannot verify sufficient information from automakers, dealership audits, Cars.com inventory and government records.
Among FHWA light-duty vehicles fully assembled in the U.S., the above disqualifications knocked the below model-year 2023 vehicles off the list:
- BMW XM; Cadillac Lyriq; Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, Camaro, Express and Silverado HD; Faraday Future FF 91; Ford E-Series, F-Series Super Duty, Police Interceptor Utility and Transit Connect; GMC Hummer EV pickup, Savana, Sierra 1500 Limited and Sierra HD; Hyundai Elantra; Jeep Cherokee; Kia Stinger; Lordstown Endurance; Lucid Air; Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and Mercedes-Benz Metris and Sprinter; Nissan Maxima and Titan XD; Ram HD and ProMaster; Rivian R1S and R1T; Subaru Impreza; and Volvo S60
- Electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW X5; Ford Escape and Transit; Lincoln Aviator and Corsair; Genesis GV70; Toyota Corolla Cross; and Volvo S60
This year’s study draws on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all major automakers and Automotive News, as well as analyses of approximately 212,000 vehicles in Cars.com inventory and in-person audits of 437 dealer vehicles.
A given model under AMI consideration includes all variants under the root nameplate unless they’re substantially electrified or use separate platforms. For example, the Jeep Wagoneer includes the Jeep Grand Wagoneer L — but the Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid have separate AMI billing, as the latter has substantial electrification. (“Substantial” is important; we judge milder hybrid applications, like the Jeep Wrangler’s eTorque V-6, as acceptable to fold into the parent vehicle’s ranking.) Under our platform rule, vehicles like the Ram 1500 and Ram 1500 Classic are separate AMI entrants due to their different underlying architecture.
By contrast, vehicles with different root nameplates are always distinct regardless of the architecture. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups have almost identical underpinnings, but since they have different names, they’re listed separately.
More From Cars.com:
- 2022 Cars.com American-Made Index: Which Cars Are the Most American?
- 2021 Cars.com American-Made Index: Which Cars Are the Most American?
- The Cars.com 2020 American-Made Index: Which Cars Are Most American?
- Cars.com’s 2019 American-Made Index: What’s the Most American Car?
Unranked Doesn’t Mean Unaccounted For
We say this every year, but: Though there may be significant differences in the contribution to the U.S. economy between a Tesla Model Y and a Nissan Rogue in the 100 vehicles that qualify for the 2023 edition of our index, there are also hundreds more models the Rogue beats out that go unranked. This year, the number of distinct light-duty models automakers sell (or plan to) in the U.S. for the 2023 model year is 388 by the AMI’s methodology. From that group, 247 models are strictly imports; 130 models are built only in the U.S.; and 11 models are both, with some sales from American-built models and some from imports. The latter groups are index-eligible, but disqualifications on other AMI grounds leaves the final order.
While more than 290,000 jobs could be put down to building both light- and heavy-duty vehicles in 2022, unranked models still offer plenty of value beyond the assembly line, and government data show there’s plenty more to that story. Nearly 560,000 additional jobs are related to vehicle parts, and nearly 1.3 million Americans are employed in the service of operations at dealerships for new and used cars. All of these numbers were up from 2021, but the ecosystem has maintained a similar balance where 40% of all employment core to the auto industry is there to build cars, but 60% is there to sell them — domestic or not.
The value of a vehicle to the U.S. economy doesn’t just end with the business of buying cars, either. There are a further 1.26 million jobs credited to independent repair shops; more than 587,000 jobs from auto parts stores; 368,000 jobs attributable to wholesalers like auction houses; and some 975,000 jobs at gas stations. Add it all up, and you’re looking at more than 5.3 million jobs for the American workforce relevant to the automotive industry.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.