The global auto industry being what it is, we have a curious situation with vehicle production. For example, what do you call a car from a foreign manufacturer that’s made in the United States with a majority of U.S.-sourced parts? Is that car foreign?
Likewise, it is difficult to call a car American when it is assembled overseas using mostly foreign-sourced parts. The only American things about it are the emblem and where the profits from sales land.
Enter the Made in America Auto Index compiled annually by Frank DuBois, a professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business. DuBois created a system of determining a car’s American-made content from the supply chain to assembly and company headquarters.
We’ve covered the vehicles with the most American content in previous posts, and the top 15 run on gasoline. Here are the five most-American electric vehicles of 2015.
5. Nissan Leaf
The best-selling electric vehicle in the U.S. (and the world) is assembled in America but only has about 40% of its body, chassis, electrical, and interior components made in this country. Nonetheless, Nissan does about half its research and development for electric vehicles in the U.S., where it has a significant inventory owing to the Leaf’s site of production (Smyrna, Tennessee). Overall, Leaf checks in tied for 51st place on the index with a score of 40 out of 100.
(Tie) 4. Chevrolet Volt
Jumping way up on the list, we find the Chevrolet Volt tied for 24th place with a score of 65.5 on the Made in America Auto Index. Volt is docked 28 points out of 50 for body, chassis, and interior components made overseas. Still, the electric motor, assembly, inventory, R&D, and GM corporate headquarters are all America, so it tied for third and fourth place among EVs with the most American content on the market. As a point of reference, Volt has the same score as the Camaro for U.S. materials.
(Tie) 3. Cadillac ELR
Underneath the fancier exterior and much more pleasant interior of the Cadillac ELR, you find the same mechanicals as the Chevy Volt. Hence the tie for third and fourth place with a score of 65.5 points, 24th place overall on the Kogod index. Due to the general reception of the first electric Caddie, you won’t see the ELR in production following its current cycle run, but while it lasts, it is the third most American EV on the road.
2. Ford Focus Electric
If you lined up the Chevy Silverado and little Ford Focus Electric, which would you say was more American? It’s a trick question: both are tied with a score of 72.5 points in 16th place overall on the Kogod Made in America Auto Index. The Focus EV lost points on body, chassis, and electrical components made outside the U.S. Otherwise, from motor production to assembly, inventory, R&D, and of course Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, this car is one American machine.
1. Tesla Model S
Everyone knows about Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory and its plans to dominate the world’s lithium-ion battery production. Well, Tesla already makes the most American electric vehicle on the road, one with a score of 75 points, tied for 13th place overall. Currently, about half of the Model S’s interior, body, and chassis are made from parts sourced overseas, but the percentage may rise in the coming years. Nonetheless, Model S has more American content than a Ram 1500 pickup, Silverado, Camaro, or Ford Edge.
Source: Kogod Made in America Auto Index