Most American-made cars sold in the U.S. are Japanese

Nine of the top 15 U.S.-sourced vehicles are Hondas and Toyotas

By Kyle Lahucik / Bloomberg

While President Donald Trump has been pressing for tariffs on foreign-made cars and parts, it turns out the most American-made cars sold in the U.S. today are usually Japanese.

The annual “American-Made Index” compiled by Cars.com found nine of the 15 most U.S.-sourced vehicles are manufactured by Honda and Toyota. The two Japanese automakers dominated the latest study thanks to the big number of popular vehicles they assemble in America and their high content of U.S.-made parts.

“It’s not surprising that there’s a lot of vehicles here from Honda,” Kelsey Mays, senior editor of Cars.com, said in an interview. About two-thirds of Honda’s cars are assembled in the U.S., which is more than General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mays said. Toyota also sells mostly American-made vehicles in the U.S. market.

The 2019 study, published Tuesday, takes into account many of the issues Trump has stumped about when it comes to the automotive trade. Cars.com examined assembly location, parts sourcing as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act, factory employment relative to sales and sourcing of engines and transmissions. The five factors aren’t equally weighed and Mays declined to give details of the breakdown.

Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep Cherokee SUV topped the list, and GM’s Chevrolet Corvette sports car placed fifth. But Japanese automakers dominated the ranking just as they did in 2018. The study, which debuted in 2006, was redesigned in 2017.

While Japanese nameplates are among the most American-made, some American brand icons are not in the Top 10. One common misconception involves Ford’s F-150, America’s longtime best-selling vehicle: Some 71% of respondents believed it to be the most American vehicle on the road, but Cars.com said it actually ranked No. 13.

Many U.S. consumers give preferential consideration to American-made vehicles, according to the survey. But nearly 50% of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned about the impact of tariffs on their new car purchasing decisions.

Cars.com hasn’t seen a massive relocation of production in a way that would influence its rankings despite the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on China and threats to do so on European and Japanese imports. Mays said Ford and GM have indicated “a few employment changes” because of the tariffs, but no automaker has significantly altered its assembly lines or supply chains in reaction to trade policy. Still, such changes could be coming — and would likely raise costs for car buyers, he said.

The White House delayed imposing tariffs on imported vehicles from the European Union, Japan and other nations on May 17 for 180 days. Earlier this month, the administration denied a GM request to exclude its Chinese-made Buick Envision from a 25% import duty.

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