Which Vehicles Are 'Made In America'? You Might Be Surprised

It’s the old debate: Is it more “American” to buy a vehicle from a company that is headquartered in the U.S. but might be built elsewhere or one that is built here by a foreign-based company? 

In Detroit, there’s a bumper sticker I see on occasion that says “Out of work yet? Keep buying foreign.” I’ve also seen ones that say “I work for Ford. I drive a Ford.” Support for the Big Three is such that some auto workers won’t even let you park in their driveway if you drive any other automaker’s car. And it used to be that the UAW set aside exactly one space for a foreign-built  vehicle in a far corner of their headquarters parking lot, out of sight of anyone coming and going from the front entrance. 

However, outside Michigan it’s a different story. Many of my in-laws in Ohio drive Hondas because they are made in Ohio. They feel like they are supporting their local economy with the purchase. And who is to argue with them? It’s been more than 30 years since the first U.S.-made Honda Accord rolled off the line at the Marysville, Ohio,  manufacturing plant in November 1982. Honda employs just over 14,000 people in Ohio. Since 1988, more than 10 million vehicles have rolled off Toyota’s assembly line in Georgetown, Ky., where full-time employment is close to 8,000. I could go on with other manufacturers who assemble cars in the U.S., but you get the idea. 

According to a consumer survey conducted by, when asked about reasons for preferring to purchase from an American manufacturer, 53% of respondents indicated it was because they wanted to support the local economy.’s annual American-Made Index (AMI) released today rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. based on the following factors:

1. At least 75% domestic-parts content or DPC (percentage of a vehicle’s parts considered to be domestic, meaning built in the U.S. or Canada, per federal regulations)

2. Vehicle final assembly point

3. Overall vehicle sales 

The number one “Made in America” car this year? For the second year in a row, it’s the Toyota Camry. In fact, five of this year’s eight AMI cars are from foreign-based automakers. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The state of the U.S. auto industry is strong and becoming increasingly global, as foreign companies continue to depend on the U.S. to manufacture their products.

“After reaching an all-time low of just seven cars on the 2015 American-Made Index, this year’s list is up one car, but still remains much smaller than earlier indexes, when the list included nearly 30 eligible cars,” said Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief. “The reason for the shrinking list continues to be the globalization of today’s automakers. While building the same car for all markets is better for an automaker’s bottom line, tracking just how American a car is has become more difficult because so few meet the criteria for our index.”

Here’s the top eight with their assembly locations: 

Toyota Camry; Georgetown, Ky., and Lafayette, Ind.

Honda Accord; Marysville, Ohio

Toyota Sienna; Princeton, Ind.

Honda Odyssey; Lincoln, Ala.

Honda Pilot; Lincoln, Ala.

Chevrolet Traverse; Lansing, Mich.

GMC Acadia; Lansing, Mich.

Buick Enclave; Lansing, Mich.

Asked why they prefer to purchase from an American manufacturer, 53% of respondents in a survey conducted this month indicated it was because they wanted to support the local economy. However, only 13% of consumers said they base their purchase decision on whether a vehicle is from an American manufacturer, down from 28% just one year ago.

“These cars have a significant impact on U.S. auto sales,” Olsen said. “The eight cars on this year’s list accounted for about 1.5 million U.S. sales in 2015, or about 8% of total U.S. car sales.”

Loyalty to the Detroit Three may run particularly deep in the Motor City, even though the likes of Toyota and Honda are putting bread on the table for thousands of American workers.

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