As more electrical components enter vehicles with hybrid and EV drivetrains, it’s hard to tell where the parts are coming from in your car. Are the battery cells manufactured in a U.S. plant or have they been imported from a foreign factory? When you see a badge from a Detroit automaker on a vehicle nowadays, you can’t take the origin of any components for granted.
Fortunately, we have the work of Frank DuBois, professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business, to help break down what elements of today’s vehicles come from where. DuBois and his team publish the Made in America Auto Index every year to let consumers know which cars can justify the label of “American-made.”
Each car gets a score based on the following categories: engine and transmission production (21%); body, interior, chassis, and electrical (50%); R&D (6%); profit margin, based on site of corporate headquarters (6%); labor (6%); and site of inventory and capital expenses (11%). Kogod then ranks all automobiles on the market based on their U.S.-sourced content.
Here are the five most American-made electric vehicles of 2016.
5. Cadillac ELR
Cadillac ELR was something of a doomed vehicle as soon as it debuted. It had the powertrain of a Chevy Volt and the price of Tesla, and the equation was never embraced by U.S. consumers. GM officially ended production of ELR in February 2016, but Kogod made sure to include this Caddie in its analysis. ELR’s final score was 54, with the car being about half foreign-sourced content in its body, interior, and chassis. Its powertrain also came from overseas.
4. Ford C-MAX Energi
Ford’s C-MAX and Fusion Energi, which can travel nearly 20 miles without gasoline, are the automaker’s best-selling plug-in vehicles. C-MAX is manufactured along with Focus Electric at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, which helped the C-MAX’s overall score of 59.00, good enough for fourth place among EVs in 2016. A little over half the electrical and interior components were sourced overseas, as was the motor.
3. Chevrolet Volt
The redesigned Chevy Volt, capable of 53 miles in EV mode, actually lost a few points since the last Made in America Auto Index was published. Nonetheless, Volt maintained its place among other electric cars on the U.S. market with a score of 61.00. Half the chassis, body, and electrical components come from factories in foreign locales, as does the car’s electric motor. This car is actually challenging Tesla for most plug-in sales in America in 2016.
2. Chevy Spark EV
In mid-2014, GM announced it was bringing production of battery components for the Chevy Spark EV in-house. This shift gave a boost to the car’s Made in America score to 63.00 for 2016. Most of the car’s body and interior parts are U.S. made, as is the electric motor and transmission fucntion. Spark EV is still assembled overseas (in Korea), so it was docked for labor and inventory, but it came out ahead of nearly every other plug-in available.
1. Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S has the most American content of any EV for the second year running with a score of 75.00. That figure was good enough for 12th place on the Made in America index, tied with Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and ahead of stalwarts like Ram pickups (74.50) and Chevy Silverado (72.50). Half of Model S’s body and electrical components are sourced overseas, but otherwise this car is all-American. Once the Gigafactory is up and running, the company’s scores should improve.