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Made in America: Is the Toyota Camry the Most American Car?

POR: Alex Perrone
Line of new cars at a dealership

Spoiler: As of 2023, the most American-made car (or rather carmaker) is Tesla. Read more about the evolution of the American-Made Index Report below. 

In a 2015 survey conducted by Cars.com, data indicated that American consumers cared more than ever about buying from domestic automakers in the mid-2010s. Cars.com analyzes this data annually, and what they found was very surprising, especially for consumers looking for the increasingly coveted seal of “American-made.”

They found that roughly one-fourth of prospective buyers prefer American automakers when shopping for a new car. However, it seems that purchasing a true “American-made” vehicle is becoming increasingly difficult. While the auto industry is no longer in as dire straits as it was, and American interest in buying cars has not diminished, the options for truly “American” cars continue to shrink.

What Cars Are “American-Made”?

Vado, Chrysler, chevrolet, y General Motors are the names of what we know to be “American” automobiles. Their names are not only synonymous with their quality but also their place of origin. They are designed and built with the American consumer in mind. The mark of being “made in America” always tugged at the heartstrings of most patriotic citizens as there is something undeniably special about buying a product that was conceived and built in a place that is close to home.

Ever since Henry Ford introduced the Model T (the first mass-produced car available to the public), the American automotive industry has been a source of pride for the US. However, what does “made in America” mean anymore in the context of a global economy where factories exist all around the world for both auto parts and car assembly? Would you believe that the car that best qualifies as “American made” was the Toyota Camry in 2015 and not your typical GM car?

The standard that Cars.com uses for its 10th American Made Index (AMI) requires that cars have at least 75% domestic content (based on where parts are manufactured, where the vehicle is built, and what percentage of the vehicles’ sales are U.S.-based) to qualify for their ranking. As of their 10th report, we are down to 7-vehicles that can be considered “American made.” This news becomes even more shocking, with American auto giant Ford not making the list at all.

While this is certainly not a case of automakers slowing U.S. production, in fact, automakers are responsible for assembling hundreds of models in the U.S. for the 2015 model year, including Chevrolet sedans, BMW SUVs, and, of course, heavy-duty trucks and commercial vehicles) it is the percentage of overall domestic-parts content that is dropping. According to data from Cars.com, 29 cars qualified for the America-Made Index in 2010, as opposed to the seven seen in 2015.

It seems that Japanese auto giant toyota, with its well-reviewed Camry, was officially the “most American” car. And who would have thought Ford would not even make it onto the list anymore? When you look at how much the data has changed, you can see a steady decline of U.S. automakers qualifying as “American Made” and more imports like Honda or Toyota taking their place. If anything, this could be seen as a sign of globalization.

The real question on industry experts’ minds really boils down to how many consumers actually care and/or know about their vehicle’s geographical roots. According to the data, approximately 28% of consumers prefer to buy American. However, it might seem unlikely that those buyers are also aware that cars like the Toyota Camry or the Honda Odyssey are much more American than the Ford Fusion or Chrysler Town & Country.

Either way, this presents car companies with plenty of potential marketing ammunition. As of the mid-2010s, while companies like Ford can’t cling to the image of “American-made,” companies like Toyota exist as examples of not just the globalization of the brand but also the Americanization.

2015 American-Made Index Winners

  1. Toyota Camry
  2. Toyota Sienna
  3. Chevrolet Traverse
  4. Honda Odyssey
  5. GMC Acadia
  6. Buick Enclave
  7. Chevrolet Corvette

2023 American-Made Index List

The Cars.com American-Made Index has since been updated over the years and now includes increasingly popular electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid models. Below are the most recent rankings from 2023, with Tesla leading the pack with four models:

  1. Tesla Model Y
  2. Tesla Model 3
  3. Tesla Model X
  4. Tesla Model S
  5. Honda Passport
  6. Volkswagen ID.4
  7. Honda Odyssey
  8. Acura MDX
  9. Honda Ridgeline
  10. Acura RDX
  11. Honda Accord
  12. Toyota Tundra

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