Made In America is becoming a hot topic these days. In this focus story, we look closely at the assembly plant location for the top-selling models in every major vehicle category. What surprised us most was the consistency of the answer.
The most popular vehicles on the road in America today are pickup trucks. Although pickups were recently passed by compact crossovers in new sales, pickups have been a staple of American motoring for the past century. During most of that time, they have been subject to a 25% import duty. The duty started during a trade disagreement during the Kennedy administration and President Johnson instituted it. Every president since, from both political parties, has kept that import duty in place. NAFTA grants Mexico and Canada an exemption. The tariff on imported trucks has had a direct impact on where the pickup trucks we drive in the U.S. are built. None of the mainstream pickup trucks in America are built outside of North America.
The top-selling pickup, also the top-selling nameplate in America, is the Ford F-150. Ford builds its pickups in Missouri and Kentucky. GM has multiple manufacturing locations for its trucks including Canada. The Chevy Silverado is built in multiple locations including in Mexico, but Reuters reports that GM is moving some of that production to Flint, Michigan. GM fully-embraced the NAFTA agreement and its trucks are excellent examples. GM has operations in Canada and Indiana and many of its current trucks are worked on at both locations. The engines are built in the U.S. in three locations. The Ram truck by FCA US has been built in Mexico, but the company is moving the operations to Michigan. The move added 2,500 jobs to the area and the company invested $1.5 billion in the move. The Nissan Titan is assembled in Canton, Mississippi. Nissan’s V8 gasoline engine and its diesel engine option are also built in the United States. The Honda Ridgeline midsized pickup is built in Alabama. The Ridgeline was the BestRide Best Truck pick in 2016. It has also been named the “most American pickup” by another publication based on its U.S. content. Most other sources name the Ford F-150 the most American truck.
Our recent focus story on where every major compact crossover for sale in the U.S. is built had many surprises. Perhaps the biggest was that three of GM’s top compact crossover models are built not just outside the U.S., but one is imported from China. However, one other fact we discovered was that both the top-selling Nissan Rogue and popular Honda CR-V come primarily from inside the United States in Ohio and Tennessee. The Toyota RAV4 is built in Canada. Jeep’s Cherokee is built in Belvidere, Illinois. Mazda imports all of its U.S. models including the CX-5 which sells in low numbers but is a reviewers’ favorite. However, Mazda is planning to shift crossover manufacturing to a new plant being co-built with Toyota in Alabama. Production is set to begin in early 2021.
The top-selling three-row crossover in America for most of the past decade is the Toyota Highlander. It has been built in Indiana since 2009. Its main rival, the Honda Pilot, is built in Alabama. The Ford Explorer is built in Chicago. Chevy’s Traverse is built in Michigan.
Mercedes-Benz builds its GLE and GLS crossovers in Alabama. The plant also makes its top-selling car, the C-Class. BMW manufactures its X3 and X5 crossovers in South Carolina. The top-selling Lexus RX crossover is made in Canada.
Almost every top-selling midsize sedan model sold in America is built inside the United States. The number-one-selling Camry is built in plants in Kentucky and Indiana. The Accord is built in Ohio. The Altima is built in Ohio and Tennessee. These three dominate the sales in this class. The lower-volume Ford Fusion is made in Mexico. The Chevy Malibu is built in Kansas.
The Toyota Corolla is the sales leader in this class. Toyota produces the Corolla in Mississippi. The Civic is built in multiple plants including a plant in the U.K. Most come to the U.S. from Canada.
The top-selling Honda Odyssey is built in Alabama. Its engine is also built in that plant. The Toyota Sienna is built in Indiana. Chrysler’s new Pacifica is an import, not from Detroit, but rather Canada.
Affordable All-Wheel Drive Wagons and Hatchbacks
Subaru builds the majority of its U.S. models in the United States. One exception is the Forester, which is only built in Japan and imported to the U.S.
Sports Cars, Muscle Cars, Coupes
Chevrolet has long built its Corvette in the United States, but its Camaro is a recent addition to GM’s U.S.-produced fleet. GM moved the Camaro from Ontario, Canada to Lansing, Michigan. Dodge’s Challenger is another story. Despite the “Imported from Michigan” marketing blurb FCA US likes to use, the Challenger is actually imported from Canada. Ford builds its Mustang in Michigan.
Off-Road Capable Vehicles
OK, we selected this category just to highlight that every Jeep Wrangler sold in America is made in Toledo, Ohio. Jeep defines this segment so completely there is no need to list the alternatives. But why not? About half of Toyota’s Tacomas are built in Texas and the rest in Mexico. Chevy’s Colorado ZR2 is built in Missouri.
General Motors has built vehicles in Arlington Texas for sixty years. Today, it builds the Chevy Silverado and GMC Yukon there. GM has SUV engine plants in Michigan, Indiana, and New York. The Ford Expedition is built in Kentucky. Like trucks, most body-on-frame SUVs are still subject to President Johnson’s 55-year old import duty on light trucks, and therefore most are built in the USA.
Luxury Full-Sized SUVs
It’s no secret that many of GM’s vehicles are simply re-branding of other vehicles. Like the Silverado and Yukon, the Cadillac Escalade is built in Texas. Infiniti builds its full-sized QX80 SUV in Los Angeles, California.
Green Vehicles and EVs (and Luxury Cars)
Tesla builds its Model S, Model 3, and Model X in Freemont, California in a plant formerly shared by GM and Toyota. Tesla also has worked very hard to bring its supply chain to the U.S., building its massive battery plant in Nevada. In addition to being top-selling EVs, the Tesla Model S is now the top-selling large luxury/performance car in America and the Tesla Model 3 the top-selling compact luxury/performance car in America. GM’s all-electric Bolt, as well as its upcoming driverless ride sharing sedan model, are both built in Lake Orion, Michigan. Nissan builds its Leaf in multiple locations globally, but the most recent 2018 Leaf we tested was built in Smyrna, Tennessee.
The fact is that automakers build almost every top-selling U.S. vehicle in every category in North America. Primarily inside the United States. The manufacturing location of every vehicle for sale in the United States is shown on the Monroney window sticker. It is located in the “Parts Content” location at the bottom right of the sticker. In many cases, but not all, the manufacturing location of the major systems and the percentage of parts from various regions are also displayed.