Tesla wins the title of most American made car

originally posted ivannex.
by Charles Morris

If you need some more justification for buying a Tesla, consider this: It’s your patriotic duty to do so. Tesla has always touted its credentials as an American company that is creating good quality American jobs, and now independent research confirms that the Tesla is the most American-made car you can buy. .

Photo by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica

Cars.com has been publishing its American-Made Index for 16 years, and now, for the first time ever, Tesla has taken the #1 spot. Tesla’s Model 3 tops the list for 2021. In second place was the Ford Mustang (the legacy gas version, not the electric Mach-E), and in third place was another Tesla, the Model Y. (The Jeep Cherokee took fourth, and the Chevrolet Corvette took fifth.)

Tesla appeared on the American-Made Index last year — in fact, all three of its current vehicles made the top 10. This year, Cars.com was forced to exclude the Model S and X from the rankings because it didn’t have enough data due to the updated versions that went on sale at the beginning of the year.

Tesla trio of red, white and blue. Image courtesy of Tesla.

Ranking vehicles “American-made” is not as simple as it might seem. In this era of global supply chains, many cars with exotic nameplates are made in the US – four of the top ten made-in-America models are from Honda (assembled in Lincoln, Alabama) and one from Toyota (San Antonio). On the other hand, many cars sold by “Baseball, Hot Dog and Apple Pie” brands such as GM are assembled in Mexico.

Also, it’s not just about the final assembly. Cars.com considers five key criteria in its rankings: assembly location, parts content, engine origin, transmission origin, and the US manufacturing workforce.

Teslas sold in the US are assembled at the company’s Fremont, California, plant. The battery pack and most of the cells come from Gigafactory 2 in Nevada.

A look at this year’s hottest US-built cars (YouTube: Cars.com)

The most important criterion in Cars.com’s American-Made Index is final assembly location. There are currently 45 US plants mass-producing light-duty passenger vehicles, which are run by 14 major automaker groups and their subsidiaries. However, automakers and third-party suppliers operate a number of additional plants to manufacture powertrains, castings, stampings, batteries, and other vehicle parts, and the fact that a given model comes from a US assembly plant does not always mean the specific US Assembly doesn’t happen, so Cars.com takes that into account as well.

Another factor in the ranking is the percentage of US- and Canadian-made parts: the 1994 American Automobile Labeling Act (AALA) requires automakers to report the overall percentage of US and Canadian content, based on value, for most cars. it occurs.

Red, white and blue Teslas. Photo by David Havasi, CleanTechnica

Cars.com also considers the country of origin for the two highest cost components of a (legacy) vehicle – the engine and transmission. Sorting this out can “quickly become a maze”, as a given model can be the source of engines from different countries. Some models have half a dozen possible combinations of sources for their engine and transmission. Of course, for electric vehicles, this metric isn’t relevant, as the battery is by far the most expensive component, and most EVs don’t have much in the way of transmission. Probably Cars.com will update its methodology in the next year or two.

The data automakers report under AALA doesn’t directly reveal the number of jobs each model causes in production, so Cars.com measures it as a separate category. “We analyze each automaker’s direct U.S. workforce involved in manufacturing light-duty vehicles and their parts against the automaker’s U.S. production footprint, to determine its workforce factor.”

The fact that Teslas are the most American-made cars you can buy is probably not widely known. It certainly isn’t (or wasn’t) known to employees in the parking lot at GM’s Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri, where a Tesla owner recently received a parking ticket for parking reserved for domestic vehicles.

Some automakers reserve the best parking spaces in their facilities for American-made vehicles. You want to buy a foreign car? OK, but you’re not going to park it next to my flag-wrapped pickup truck! An uninformed parking attendant apparently assumed that Tesla was a foreign brand, and did not realize that it was more American than the GM vehicles being assembled inside the plant.

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