The 2021 most ‘American-made’ auto is a first-timer in top spot

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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.

Ford
F,
+0.88%,
Jeep, GM’s Chevrolet
GM,
-0.10%
and Honda
7267,
-1.02%
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 and released Wednesday, ranks vehicles based on criteria ranging from number of U.S. factory jobs to location of manufacturing plants to parts sourcing. View the complete list.

Cars.com 2021 American Made-Index rankings. 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. 

“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.

Tesla
TSLA,
+0.46%
only recently began supplying the information that needs to be included in the index.

Last year, Tesla’s EVs took three spots in the top 10 for the first time, out-performing 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. 

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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.

Tracking consumer habits, nearly 50% of the vehicles on the index are SUVs, followed by sedans at 28% and pick-up 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. Up from just a quarter of respondents in 2020, 29% this year say that it’s “unpatriotic” to purchase a non-American made vehicle.

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.

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.”

Parts shortages emerged in Tesla’s latest earnings round, reported in April. The Silicon Valley EV maker reported mixed first-quarter earnings then, with sales slightly below Wall Street’s expectations though rising 74% 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
SPX,
+0.51%
is up 13% in the year to date.

Read: Why this Tesla taxi fleet won’t be allowed to operate in NYC

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