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cars.com American Made Index -- Where is Tesla?

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,129
1,335
Durham, NC
Why aren't Tesla's vehicles (especially the Model 3) on this list?

https://www.cars.com/articles/cars-coms-2019-american-made-index-whats-the-most-american-car-404547/

Is it because Tesla's cars really don't have as much American content as I would think they do (and have been told they do)?

Or is it because the AMI's methodology comprises the following metrics:


Last redesigned in 2017, the American-Made Index considers five key factors for each model:
  • The final-assembly location
  • The origin of parts in the car as reported for the American Automobile Labeling Act
  • The origin country (or countries) for its engines
  • The origin country (or countries) for transmissions
  • The number of Americans its parent automaker employs at the factory level
If a car doesn't have an "engine" or a "transmission" do they not qualify for this list?

Will be seriously pissed if Tesla was overlooked simply because it doesn't have an engine or a transmission!
 
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Some of the seven named criteria are not favorable to Tesla; profit margin (which has been up and down of late) and number of US employees -- even a sh***y gigantic car company will have more employees than a practically-perfect-in-every-way smaller car company. Perhaps it should be *percent* of workers employed in the US. (and yeah, according to the list published, lots of Mexican-made parts)
 

srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,276
1,588
Woonsocket, RI

Further down the list. They seem to think that Tesla's are only 50-55% American. Assembled here but perhaps with a lot of foreign materials?

2018 Auto Index

These appear to be two entirely different rankings, using different criteria. If you examine the top few cars in each list, they don't match across the two lists -- at least, not in the exact same order. (Some models do appear high on both lists. I suspect a statistical analysis would show a strong correlation, which would indicate they're measuring much the same thing, but I've not done that analysis.) The cars.com article lists only the top 10 vehicles. The American University list includes 115 rankings, but many of those are ties between models. The site defaults to showing 50 vehicles per page, and has 11 pages, so that suggests closer to 550 vehicles. I don't know how many vehicles Cars.com examined, but if it's a similar number, their "top 10" would be a very restrictive set of cars indeed.

In that context, the Tesla Model S comes in at #8 on the American University list (with a 77.5 total domestic content, or TDC, index), the Model X is at #12 (with a 75 TDC), the Model 3 Long Range is also at #12 (also with a 75 TDC), and the Model 3 (unspecified range) is at #16 (with a 72.5 TDC). (It looks like the #16 Model 3 has 45% US/Canadian parts vs. 50% for the #12 LR Model 3. Could this be an effect of LR vs. SR/SR+ battery packs? I haven't checked the window sticker on SR/SR+ Model 3s.) Even #16 of 550 is very high on the scale -- that's in the top 3% by rank. The TDC figure ranges from 1 to 83.5 over all cars, so the 72.5-77.5 TDC for Teslas is also quite high.

FWIW, the window sticker for my LR RWD Model 3 specifies 50% US/Canadian content and another 25% Mexican content. I was a bit surprised the US/Canadian content was as low as 50%, but I guess that's an illustration of just how international automotive supply chains are these days. I have no idea where the final 25% of a Model 3's content originates, except that some items (such as some electronics) are assembled in China. Note also that some parts pass back and forth between countries as they're aggregated into sub-assemblies, so some of the "Mexican" or "Chinese" items may actually have US-made sub-components (like US-made integrated circuits on a Chinese-made computer); but by the same token, a "US/Canadian" component might have some foreign-made sub-components. AFAIK, these studies don't try to dig down to the level of every molecule in every component.
 

srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,276
1,588
Woonsocket, RI
Some of the seven named criteria are not favorable to Tesla; profit margin (which has been up and down of late) and number of US employees -- even a sh***y gigantic car company will have more employees than a practically-perfect-in-every-way smaller car company. Perhaps it should be *percent* of workers employed in the US. (and yeah, according to the list published, lots of Mexican-made parts)

You seem to be looking at the American University criteria, since I couldn't find those items mentioned on the Cars.com site. I believe you're misinterpreting them both. Specifically, American University describes these as:

American University said:
  1. Profit Margin - This was measured based on the location of an automaker’s headquarters. If an automaker’s global headquarters is located in the US, the model receives a 6. If it is not, it receives a 0. The assumption here is that (on average), 6% of a vehicle’s value is profit margin, so if it is a U.S. automaker, the profits remain in the country.
  2. Labor - This category considers where the car is assembled. If a model is assembled in the US, it receives a 6. If not, the model receives a 0. We assume that approximately 6% of the vehicle’s value is labor content.

I interpret these to refer to where the profits go (the US vs. Japan, China, Germany, etc.) and the final assembly point. Neither seems to refer to the absolute value of the profits or number of employees. The first of those is definitely poorly named, since a profit margin is a measure of how profitable an item is to make and sell; and the latter is also ambiguous without its explanation.
 
You seem to be looking at the American University criteria, since I couldn't find those items mentioned on the Cars.com site. I believe you're misinterpreting them both. Specifically, American University describes these as:

I was, indeed, looking at the AU list, but on cars.com the criteria are given as:
upload_2019-6-25_12-5-17.png

wherein Tesla (as well as all other EVs) is automatically disqualified from earning credit for the manufacture of their engine and transmission, and "the number of Americans its parent automaker employs at the factory level" will be smaller, since it is a smaller company. The rubric is inherently biased against EVs and relatively low-volume auto makers, which really makes it kind of meaningless. Nothing more than propaganda for legacy brands.
 

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,129
1,335
Durham, NC
The answer is near the end of the article:

"Tesla declined to furnish enough information to be included in the 2019 American-Made Index."

Interesting...that sentence as added (I know because I did a find on "Tesla" and it wasn't there before). I had written the author and asked where Tesla was in the list. I bet a bunch of other people did, and this was the reason for the update.

I did come across this document though:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/2017_aala_percent_year.pdf

The data comes from the manufacturers themselves, and for sure it lists the US content for Tesla as 50%, so I guess we can't blame cars.com for manipulating the data. And it does list "US" as the assembly point for both engine and transmission on the Tesla vehicles. So I guess it simply boils down to the "50%" US content that Tesla claims. Interesting.

Here is some more information on the AALA listing: Part 583 American Automobile Labeling Act Reports

And here is a similar thread on TMC that I found: Model 3 Made in America Index

I suppose the two threads could be merged.
 

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