Jeep Cherokee Ranks No. 1 as “Most American Made,” While Japanese Automakers Take Over Nine Slots on the List
Chicago, IL – Leading digital automotive marketplace Cars.com (NYSE: CARS) recently released its 2019 American-Made Index (AMI), which ranks the top 15 new vehicles that contribute most to the U.S. economy — based on criteria ranging from manufacturing plants and parts sourcing to factory jobs. As trade tensions reach a fever pitch, buying American is top of mind for many consumers. But longstanding globalization in the auto industry has blurred the lines of what’s exactly American made. For complete information on the 2019 AMI, visit www.cars.com/ami.
Take this year’s index, where the Jeep Cherokee ranks as the most American-made vehicle of 2019. The Illinois-built SUV comes from Jeep, one of the most iconic American brands, yet it’s produced by Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Nine other vehicles came from Honda or Toyota, both Japan-based automakers. Honda has seven models that made the index, including two from its Acura division. Among the top 10 vehicles, the Honda Passport, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Acura RDX are new to the American-Made Index or return after an absence. The full list is as follows:
|Rank||Make/Model||U.S. Assembly Plant Location(s)|
|1||Jeep Cherokee||Belvidere, Ill.|
|2||Honda Odyssey||Lincoln, Ala.|
|3||Honda Ridgeline||Lincoln, Ala.|
|4||Honda Passport||Lincoln, Ala.|
|5||Chevrolet Corvette||Bowling Green, Ky.|
|6||Acura MDX (excludes hybrid variants)||East Liberty, Ohio|
|7||Honda Pilot||Lincoln, Ala.|
|8||Chevrolet Colorado||Wentzville, Mo.|
|9||GMC Canyon||Wentzville, Mo.|
|10||Acura RDX||East Liberty, Ohio.|
|11||Chevrolet Camaro||Lansing, Mich.|
|12||Toyota Avalon (excludes hybrid variants)||Georgetown, Ky.|
|13||Ford F-150||Claycomo, Mo., & Dearborn, Mich.|
|14||Honda Accord*||Marysville, Ohio|
|15||Toyota Tundra||San Antonio, Texas|
“Despite a lot of talk around new tariffs and the looming U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, few of the automakers in the top 15 indicated major manufacturing changes as a result,” said Kelsey Mays, senior editor at Cars.com. “Even if they had, manufacturing can’t change overnight. A single vehicle has tens of thousands of parts from third-party suppliers across the globe.”
Automakers still assemble around 120 models in the U.S. for the 2019 model year, with U.S.-built sales accounting for just over half of all new vehicles bought by consumers. Neither amount has changed significantly since the 2018 American-Made Index. A mounting list of sedans and hatchbacks have bitten the dust, but that stems from consumers’ shift toward SUVs, which began before current trade pressures.
“Tariffs or other changes in trade policy could have a major impact on consumers and the auto industry, including rising costs,” Mays said. “It’s no small task to move supply chains, much less alter where a car or its major components are built – both factors that influence AMI rankings. Such actions take years to plan, negotiate and implement.”
The AMI, an annual study produced since 2006, was supplemented by a 2019 Cars.com survey1 that probed attitudes about buying American, including:
- How much do shoppers really care whether a car is American made? Sixty-six percent of all respondents want to buy a car that contributes substantially to the U.S. economy, but the sentiment varies by age. Among respondents age 18-34 — a group that includes millennials and GenZ consumers — just 61 percent indicated that it matters that the car they buy contributes substantially to the U.S. economy. That’s notably lower than the share of respondents age 35-54 (71 percent) who indicated the same. Younger generations are also least likely (14 percent) to think it’s unpatriotic to buy non-American, compared to 27 percent of respondents 55 and older. Why? Perhaps their parents’ cars play a part. Just 55 percent of respondents age 18-34 said their parents owned American-made cars, significantly lower than the percentage of respondents age 55+ (88 percent) who indicated the same.
- How concerned are Americans about tariffs? Determining a vehicle’s homegrown credentials is no easy task, but trade tensions and new tariffs mean such credentials could impact the cost of that vehicle. Cars.com’s survey revealed that half of all respondents are concerned about the possibility of tariffs on automotive imports. What’s at stake? If tariffs are passed, consumers could see increases in vehicle costs or manufacturers may be forced to eat those costs. Forty-one percent are unsure if the tariffs would make them more likely to consider domestic vehicles.
- Will buying American create more U.S. jobs? Eighty percent of respondents agree that buying American-made cars will create more jobs in the U.S.
- Where do Americans think most cars are coming from? Forty-seven percent of American survey respondents replied that they think Michigan is the state that produces the most cars in the U.S., which is right on the money. The home state of the “Motor City” makes almost 18 percent of all new cars in the U.S. – the largest share of any state – followed closely by Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.²
“Just as the very definition of ‘American made’ is evolving in the face of consolidation among manufacturers and throughout the entire supply chain, so are attitudes about how important buying American is to car-shopping consumers,” said Mays. “Younger generations aren’t any less patriotic than past generations, but they likely don’t prioritize buying American to the same extent as their parents and grandparents because they grew up with imported brands and digital access to goods from all over the world their entire lives.”
Mays said that millennials prize having access to information about economic impact, “which is why Cars.com developed the American-Made Index – to educate car shoppers on this often overwhelming purchase decision and give them the full picture to make informed decisions about which vehicle to buy.”
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 sales, engine sourcing and transmission sourcing. The company analyzed more than 100 U.S.-built vehicles to arrive at the top 15 most American models on the market.
1Cars.com internal data. The 2019 American-Made Index surveyed over 1,000 participants from an independent, third-party provider. The survey fielded on June 3, 2019.
² Cars.com analysis of Automotive News production data, Q1 2019