Ford Motor's F-150 pickup, made at Dearborn, Mich., is the most 'American-made' vehicle in Cars.com's 2013 index. Shown is a 2014 F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition/USA TODAY
by James R. Healey and Fred Meier, USA TODAY
Ford's best-selling F-150 pickup bumped the Toyota Camry as the most "American-made" vehicle in the latest annual America-Made Index by our colleagues at Cars.com's Kicking Tires blog.
Camry, made in Kentucky and Indiana, was the somewhat surprising winner from 2009-12. Toyota still has the most number of ranked vehicles with four, followed by General Motors with three. The rankings, wrangled into shape by Cars.com writer Kelsey Mays, include five Japanese-brand models: Camry, plus Toyota's Sienna, Tundra and Avalon, as well as the Honda Odyssey minivan built in Alabama.
To even be considered for the American-Made Index, a vehicle has to have 75% North American content. Other factors in the formula include where the vehicle is built and U.S. sales -- since a low-selling vehicle may be mostly made here but creates fewer U.S. jobs. Mays says the lists doesn't include any models built exclusively outside the U.S., or models soon to be discontinued without a U.S.-built successor.
It was the pickup sales boom that helped put the F-150 -- the best-selling vehicle in America this year -- back on top, where it had been before being deposed by Camry.
"Strong sales and 75% domestic-parts content propelled Ford's popular F-150 to the top of the index for 2013, a rank it held from 2006 to 2008," said Patrick Olsen, Cars.com's editor-in-chief. "Ford's top ranking this year is a good indicator of how pickup trucks are dominating auto sales so far in 2013, and how the domestic automakers are bouncing back. While the assembly point and domestic parts content of the F-150 didn't change from 2012-13, vehicle sales are responsible for bumping the F-150 to the top spot."
Such lists always re-ignite the debate over the definition of American-made:
•A foreign-based automaker raking off the profits, but U.S. workers getting the jobs in U.S.-based factories building the vehicles. Toyota's Kentucky factory that builds Camry and Avalon is an example.
•A Detroit maker earning the profits from U.S. sales while jobs are outside the U.S., such as in Mexico. Ford's strong-selling Fusion, made at Hermosillo, Mexico, and, increasingly over time, also at Flat Rock, Mich., could serve as an example. Don't count the Mexico cars?
•A Detroit maker using U.S. workers in a U.S. factory -- period; nothing else should count as "American-made." General Motors' three big crossover SUVs showcase that scenario: Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave. All are made at Lansing, Mich.
The cheaper dollar exchange rates have made it more profitable to export from U.S. plants. The AMI weights by U.S. sales, but Cars.com also looked at how the list would change if it took into account more exported models. Nine of the 10 vehicles were the same (Ford Expedition bumped the Chevy Traverse), but the order was rearranged in the export list here.
The Top 10 (also in order in gallery above) with make/Model, U.S. assembly location and rank last year:
•Ford F-150, Dearborn, Mich. and Claycomo, Mo. 2
•Toyota Camry, Georgetown, Ky., and Lafayette, Ind. 1
•Dodge Avenger, Sterling Heights, Mich. -
•Honda Odyssey, Lincoln, Ala. -
•Toyota Sienna, Princeton, Ind. 4
•Chevrolet Traverse, Lansing, Mich. 6
•Toyota Tundra, San Antonio, Texas 7
•GMC Acadia, Lansing, Mich. 9
•Buick Enclave, Lansing, Mich. 10
•Toyota Avalon, Georgetown, Ky. -
Sources: Cars.com from automaker data, Automotive News, dealership data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NOTES: Cars.com's AMI rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include where parts come from (percentage of domestic content), whether it's assembled in the U.S. and sales. Disqualified: models with a domestic parts content rating below 75%, models built exclusively outside the U.S. or models soon to be discontinued. "Domestic-parts content" stems from the 1992 American Automobile Labeling Act, which groups the U.S. and Canada under the same "domestic" umbrella. It's one of the law's imperfections, but the AALA is the only domestic-parts labeling system car shoppers can find on every new car sold in America.