The most American-made vehicle for 2021 is the Tesla Model 3, according to a long-running index, the first time that an all-electric auto has claimed the top spot.
nameplates also earned high marks for their U.S.-based production, which remains an important consideration for a rising number of U.S. buyers.
The Cars.com American-Made Index, first created in 2006, ranks vehicles based on criteria such as number of U.S. factory job, location of manufacturing plants and parts sourcing. View the complete list, including starting prices. And check out the least-American cars.
“Tesla has now cemented itself firmly on Cars.com’s American Made-Index, with the Model 3 and the Model Y taking the No. 1 and No. 3 spots, respectively,” said Kelsey Mays, assistant managing editor at Cars.com.
only recently began supplying the information needed to be included in the index.
Last year, Tesla’s EVs took three spots in the top 10 for the first time, outperforming brands like Jeep and Chevrolet which normally dominate the list. In 2020, the Michigan-built Ford Ranger, resurrected for the U.S. market in 2019, ranked first.
SUVs still dominate
A total of 90 models qualified for this year’s AMI. That’s out of 344 cars on the market in 2021. GM led the way with 19 cars on the index, followed by Honda at 13, Toyota with 12 and Ford at 11.
The index is 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.
Largely tracking with consumer habits, nearly 50% of the vehicles on the index are SUVs, followed by sedans at 28% and pickup trucks at 17%.
According to new research from Cars.com, 72% of shoppers consider a car’s U.S. economic impact a significant or deciding factor in their vehicle purchase, up from 70% who indicated the same in 2020.
Even as the pandemic threat wanes, a third of respondents in 2021 still say COVID-19 has made them more likely to buy an American-built vehicle. And up from a quarter of respondents in 2020, 29% this year say that it’s “unpatriotic” to purchase a non-American made vehicle.
Slow EV adoption
The Biden administration has made the push toward EV adoption a priority, part of a broader policy favoring a shift to renewable energy and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. But the president’s critics have said U.S. reliance on imported parts may slow the U.S. job growth the White House says can accompany rising EV popularity.
Cars.com’s Mays said consumers are slowly exploring EVs though adoption will likely only significantly pick up when charging times and convenience draw closer to the 5 minutes typically spent at traditional gas stations.
As for EV automakers, “so much of the value chain is in the battery. So historically, batteries have been largely outsourced from overseas suppliers,” Mays told MarketWatch. “That’s cost-intensive and also very heavy shipping. It makes sense for automakers to try to localize.”
Ford has vowed to make electric vehicles 40% of its global sales by 2030, while GM said it will only offer EVs and not internal combustion engines by 2035.
The landscape has been challenging for newcomers, most recently for Lordstown Motors Corp. It has stuck to its timeline to have its first electric pickup trucks rolling off the factory floor later this year, but the company “has a long road ahead,” say analysts.
Chip shortages persist
For now, inventory and parts shortages, as well as the surging price of used vehicles, have been factors in a post-COVID recovery.
“The 2021 AMI arrives against a backdrop of scarce inventory amid a microchip shortage, and heightened consumer demand,” said Mays. “Despite this, there remains a high consumer focus on buying American-made vehicles as the economy is still emerging from the effects of the pandemic.”
Mays said predicting when shortages and bottlenecks will right themselves remains hard to pin down.
“There’s a long and murky road ahead,” he said. “And some signs that demand may be slacking a little bit.”
Parts shortages emerged in Tesla’s latest earnings round, a mixed report out in April. Sales were slightly below Wall Street’s expectations though rose74% to $10.39 billion from $5.99 billion a year earlier.
Tesla’s share price is down 11% so far in 2021, just trimming its more than 220% one-year surge. The S&P 500
is up 13% in the year to date.