The Ford Ranger was named the most “American-Made” vehicle, nudging past the Jeep Cherokee, in the latest annual study by Cars.com.
But the 2020 American-Made Index had a new player land in its upper ranks, Tesla landing three of the top 10 models. Honda, meanwhile, was the only foreign-owned brand to make it into the top tier, all of those models produced at its plant in Lincoln, Alabama.
The American-Made Index, or AMI, “is an independent annual list that ranks the new vehicles that contribute most to the U.S. economy based on criteria ranging from U.S. factory jobs and manufacturing plants to parts sourcing.“
The latest AMI comes at a time when there is increasing focus among consumers on products that are actually made in America, the study’s authors point out, noting that their research indicates the impact a vehicle has on the U.S. economy is either a “significant” or “deciding” factor in the purchase decision for fully 70% of American car buyers.
“The survey found that 37% of consumers report they are ‘more likely’ to buy an American-made car due to the current health and economic crisis, while just 4% said they were ‘less likely.’ And a whopping 26% said it was ‘unpatriotic’ to buy a non-American-made car, compared to just 18% in 2019,” a summary of the AMI findings said.
That’s something a number of manufacturers have begun to highlight lately, whether in news release or ad pitches. That includes “import” brands such as BMW – which has been highlighting the fact that it exports more American-made vehicles than any other from its plant in South Carolina – as well as Toyota and Honda, both of which operate a network of parts and assembly plants in the U.S. Honda’s Odyssey, Ridgeline and Passport models, all produced in Alabama, ranked fifth, sixth and seventh in the 2020 AMI, respectively.
The list was led, however, by the Ford Ranger that is assembled at the Motown automaker’s Wayne, Michigan plant near Detroit. The Ranger nameplate was revived during the 2019 model-year and will soon have company at the Wayne plant, Ford getting set to also revive the Bronco badge for a new SUV.
In line with Cars.com research, Ford is betting it can win over consumers by appealing to their desire for truly American-made products. In May, it scrubbed its old national ad campaign in favor of a pandemic-themed pitch with a clearly patriotic tone.
“Ford chooses to invest more in America than any other automaker in part because of its rich history here. There are a lot of parallels between how the company and the country face and ultimately overcome challenges,” Ford President of the Americas Kumar Galhotra said when the campaign launched. “It’s not easy, and it’s not always comfortable, but we don’t back down. We will work hard to come back – aiming to be even stronger than before.”
The Ranger nudged out the Jeep Cherokee, built in Belvidere, Illinois, which fell to second in this year’s study.
But the two faced new competition for the Made-in-America crown. Tesla’s Model S and Model 3 battery-sedans landed in third and fourth place, while the Model X crossover was ninth.
This was the first time that Tesla participated in the project. The automaker, researchers noted, is the only one that produces all of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. at an American assembly plant.
Rounding out the top 10 list, Chevrolet had two models, the Corvette sports car assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky in eighth, and the Colorado pickup built in Wentzville, Missouri in tenth.
Of the roughly 350 vehicles now being sold in U.S. dealerships, 91 qualified for the study by being assembled at American plants.