Knowing what constitutes an American auto brand or individual model isn’t as simple as it used to be. Before the globalization of the auto industry, it was easy to state with confidence that any General Motors, Chrysler Corporation, or Ford Motor Company product was as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie-a phrase that Chevrolet actually used to great effect in its advertising back in the 1970s.
Today, there are several factors you might use to determine whether a car is a red-blooded American product. None are totally clear cut. If you’d like to keep it simple, you could list the brands currently in production that started life as American-based companies: Buick; Cadillac; Chevrolet; GMC; Chrysler; Dodge; Jeep; Ram; Ford; Lincoln; and Tesla.
Made in America Doesn’t Mean What It Used To
If only it were that simple. Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep were absorbed by Italian maker Fiat after parent company Chrysler went into bankruptcy in 2009. (Ram was born from Dodge’s truck lineup.) Is the renamed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-and the vehicles it makes-American anymore? Then there’s the fact that numerous models built by the 11 foundational American brands listed above are today assembled outside of the 50 states. On the other hand, foreign automakers from Honda to Mercedes-Benz assemble vehicles here in the U.S. using a majority of North American–sourced parts and American labor. So, which brands and models should be considered American?
The Federal Government’s Data Tells a Story
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that automobile manufacturers track where a vehicle’s parts are sourced, final assembly points, the country of origin of the engine and transmission, and what countries its parts come from. Automakers must then display that information on every vehicle’s window sticker.
That data complicates things further. The original North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) required that each vehicle’s sticker reflect the percentage of North American parts-without distinguishing how much the U.S. and Canada each contribute to that total. The percentages of Mexican parts and parts from other countries are listed separately, so it’s impossible to tell what percentage of parts in a new vehicle is solely American.
How We Chose the Vehicles on This List
For our purposes, we’ve decided that to qualify as American, a vehicle must be assembled in the United States with at least 50 percent of its parts supplied from North America.
Below is a list of all 2018-model-year cars and light trucks that meet that criteria. You might be surprised about which popular, seemingly all-American vehicles aren’t on the list-like the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck (it contains only 46 percent North American content) and the Jeep Compass (it’s made in Mexico).
If you don’t see your favorite brand or model listed here, we don’t consider it truly American. And if you wonder where it’s built or where its parts come from, you can find that information on NHTSA’s American Automobile Labeling Act list, which features detailed information about engine and transmission sourcing as well. The brands we deem American-and the models they build in the U.S.-are as follows: