What is a truly American car? Is it a vehicle that has been a best-seller for decades like the Ford F-150 pick-up? Is it an iconic car like the Chevy Corvette? Is it a car that is used as a pace car at the Indianapolis 500? Or, is it a car that has the most parts made in America?
Cars.com has released the latest edition of its “American-Made Index,” evaluating 90 vehicles from a variety of manufacturers to determine the “most American cars.” Those vehicles at the top of the list are the leaders based on five yardsticks: assembly location, parts content, engine origins, transmission origins, and U.S. manufacturing workforce.”
The winner was the Tesla Model 3, the lower-priced model made by America’s leading electric car manufacturer. The publicly traded company, founded by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, not only has the largest market share among electric vehicles sold in the U.S., but also the highest market capitalization among all auto manufacturers in the country at $647 billion. (Ford’s comparable figure is $61 billion, even though its revenue is several times bigger.)
Investors view Tesla as the car company of the future. Ford, by the same logic, is a car company of the past because it makes so many gas-powered cars. Ford management has set out to change that with electric models of several cars which include a new version of its top-selling F-150. (Not surprisingly, electric and hybrid vehicles are the most fuel-efficient brand new cars on the market.)
Looking at the balance of the top vehicles on the list, Cars.com experts commented: “Tesla has the No. 1 spot for the first time in the index’s 16-year history. The California electric vehicle maker’s compact sedan, the Model 3, topped the No. 2 Ford Mustang to lead the index for 2021; the Tesla Model Y, Jeep Cherokee and Chevrolet Corvette rounded out the top five models.” (It may hold two places in the top five, but you’ll be surprised where Tesla ranks in our list of the most and least dependable car brands in 2021.)
No car from a foreign-based manufacturer made the top five list, though many of them include American-made parts and/or are built in this country. The top vehicle from non-U.S. car companies was No. 6, the Honda Ridgeline, the Japanese manufacturer’s pick-up, made in Lincoln, Alabama.
To determine the most American-made cars you can buy, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Cars.com’s second annual American-Made Index which ranks all qualifying vehicles built and bought in the United States. The 2021 study ranked 90 vehicles through the same five major criteria: assembly location, parts content, engine origins, transmission origins and U.S. manufacturing workforce.