Tesla Model Y Among Most ‘American’ Cars, But Model 3 Knocked Off Top 10

By automotive-mag.com 13 Min Read

A car made in America is a big selling point for many domestic consumers. That’s especially true as politicians are pushing protectionist measures to prevent some foreign-built EVs from encroaching on domestic territory. But how made-in-America is each vehicle, and what should that mean for consumers looking to pick up a new electric car?

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for all things EV and automotive tech. Today, we’re chatting about Tesla once again topping the American-made index for its cars (albeit short one model this time in the top 10), buyers shunning a lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a bit about software-defined vehicles. Let’s jump in.

30%: Tesla Model Y Once Again ‘Most American-Made’ Car, But Model 3 Knocked Off Top 10

Tesla has again topped Cars.com’s annual American Made Index (AMI) for the fourth year running.

The 2024 AMI was released this week, with the Tesla Model Y taking first place, just like in 2022 and 2023. Tesla has had a footing in the AMI’s top 10 since the automaker first appeared on the list in 2020 and has held the top spot since 2021. This year, however, one of Tesla’s key models was knocked out of the highest spots on the list.

In 2023, Tesla swept the board and claimed all four top spots for its models. However, things have been shaken up for 2024. The Model Y remains at the top, but Tesla’s other models—the Model 3, X, and Y—have jumped around.

The most drastic change is to the Model Y’s sedan sibling, the Model 3. For 2024, it has dropped from being the second-most American-made car down to the 21st spot. Cars.com cites new U.S. manufacturing workforce calculations and domestic parts content as the reason for the drop.

Here’s what Cars.com had to say about the rebalance:

Though Teslas no longer hold a vice grip at the top of the order thanks in part to changes in this year’s workforce calculations, it’s worth noting the Model X has the same overall U.S. and Canadian parts content as it did for 2023, and the Model S has 5% more; only the Model 3 saw a drop in overall parts content percentage.

Even so, the Model 3 features a variant with 75% U.S. and Canadian parts content—a requirement of the original AMI only one other vehicle managed for 2024.

Below are the top 10 most American-made cars according to the AMI:

  1. Tesla Model Y
  2. Honda Passport (ICE)
  3. Volkswagen ID.4
  4. Tesla Model S
  5. Honda Odyssey (ICE)
  6. Honda Ridgeline (ICE)
  7. Toyota Amry (ICE)
  8. Jeep Gladiator (ICE)
  9. Tesla Model X
  10. Lexus TX (ICE)

It’s worth pointing out that Tesla is the only domestic manufacturer in the top 10. Tesla is the only U.S. automaker until the Ram 1500, which is placed 19th in the list. That alone is a pretty fantastic feat worth calling out, even if the Model 3 dropped in its ranking and the Tesla Cybertruck is nowhere to be seen on the list.

The AMI analyzes over 400 vehicles to determine which are the most American-made. Only eight EVs placed onto the top 100 vehicles—the Tesla Model Y, Model, S, Model X, and Model 3, as well as the Volkswagen ID.4 (3rd place), Ford F-150 Lightning (56th), Cadillac Lyriq (71st), and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV (98th).

60%: No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto A No-Go For Many Buyers

Mercedes MBUX Apple CarPlay

Mercedes MBUX Apple CarPlay

Our smartphones are integrated into just about every part of our digital lives. As cars become more software-centric, that also means becoming more ingrained into the vehicle ecosystem. In fact, consumers are so glued to their phones that roughly one-third of new car buyers won’t even consider buying a car without either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

A new study by McKinsey & Co, as reported by Automotive News, notes that 30% of global EV buyers and 35% of global combustion engine buyers consider the lack of either integration a deal-breaker when shopping around for a new car.

In the U.S. specifically, those numbers change very slightly to 25% of EV buyers and 38% of ICE buyers. But even more troubling, at least for automakers that decide to forego either smartphone mirroring solution, is that 10% of domestic buyers say that they would also switch brands should smartphone integration be cut out.

From Automotive News:

Only 35 percent of global respondents said they would switch to using a native system provided by the automaker. Fifty-two percent said they would only use their smartphones, while 14 percent said they would switch to a different car brand for their next purchase.

In the U.S., only 28 percent of respondents said they would switch to the native system. More than 60 percent said they would keep using their smartphones, while 10 percent said they would switch brands if smartphone integration were cut out.

The study’s results spell bad news for automakers that have decided to ditch smartphone mirroring. While some brands like Tesla and Rivian have simply never integrated the mirroring platform to begin with, other OEMs like General Motors have made it clear that they intend to develop their own software stack for their future cars—that includes the Chevy Blazer and $130,000 Cadillac Escalade IQ.

“The infotainment experience should feel custom to each driver and vehicle,” said a GM spokesperson in a statement to Automotive News. “We’re moving toward a native system that easily syncs with the customers’ phone of choice and enables deeper integration with vehicle controls and status, alongside features like voice assistant, navigation, music, texts, calls, apps, and more.”

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple for anti-competitive behavior. One key focus of the case is the tech giant’s use of Apple CarPlay to drive out competition. The suit alleges that next-generation CarPlay is one of the biggest gatekeepers of all, forcing consumers to deal with an iPhone-centric driving experience where Apple “takes over” the car—something that some automakers refute.

The study shows that many Apple CarPlay and Android Auto users are big fans of the feature. However, automakers are convinced that they can provide a just-as-good user experience with their in-house software. If early reports of these software stacks are any indication of how things have been going, the ride to a smartphone-less car could be a bit rocky at best.

90%: Automakers Set Sights On Software-Defined Vehicles

Rivian Halloween Software Update

Rivian Halloween Software Update

Automakers are exploring the latest industry buzzword: software-defined. That term is pretty vague, but the skinny is reducing the complexity of a vehicle’s hardware to cut down on costs and enable new features primarily through software.

I know what you’re thinking—this already exists. After all, Tesla and other automakers have leveraged over-the-air updates to enable new features in existing cars. The industry is currently in a limbo between traditional vehicles of yesteryear where automobiles came off the assembly line and never changed features or functions until they ended up in the scrap yard, and modern vehicles with flexible software that can be upgraded over time.

Software-defined vehicles are more than that, at least in theory. Sonatus says that the larger piece of the puzzle is simplifying the vehicle’s hardware and allowing the remaining hardware to support more functions in a single module.

Essentially, SDVs remove most of the fixed-function hardware blocks and sensors, instead placing centralized components and software in charge of the functions previously handled by individual parts. Furthermore, SDVs have an open ecosystem that allows for external innovation through third-party development, something that Moritz Neukirchner, Head of Software Architecture at Elektrobit, says that Tesla doesn’t currently do with its walled-garden approach.

General Motors, Magna, and Wipro recently announced a collaborative effort to help push external innovation. The trio founded a new platform called SDVerse that plays “matchmaker” between buyers and sellers of automotive software.

“The goal is to minimize [the number of hardware components] as much as possible and make them as simple as possible,” said Alex Oyler, director of SBD Automotive, in a statement to Automotive News. “All of the specialized logic—that’s in those applications and the software-defined vehicle environment.”

Ford and Tesla have mentioned different variations of how powerful software could be to the brand. Ford has been open about its use of in-car telematics to learn what kinds of features consumers are using in connected cars, something it will use to help build out new features for cars based on the capability in the already-installed hardware. On the flip side, Tesla has used these telematics to learn how it can cut costs by removing seldom-used features like passenger-side adjustable lumbar support.

The industry has a long way to go before it can truly say it has a software-defined car, but it’s hard to ignore that’s the route the industry is going. Automakers are already focused on cost-cutting measures so fewer specialized components could mean more savings—crucial in a time when more affordable EVs are needed. And a more software-centric approach to vehicle development could result in the potential for revenue well after a vehicle is sold to the consumer.

100%: Is No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto A Dealbreaker For You?

Lucid Air Apple CarPlay

We talked a bit about software-defined vehicles, and one of the key functions of an SDV is the ability to add new features to an existing platform by slapping new functionality in front of the driver with no changes to existing hardware.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are small examples of how that can be implemented on a smaller level. With the newest iteration of CarPlay offering the ability to more heavily integrate into the car’s digital ecosystem, it’s clear that Apple wants a bigger piece of the puzzle here. And, of course, buyers want the ability to tie their most-used gadget into one of their most expensive possessions as much as possible.

All that being said, if your favorite new car didn’t come with CarPlay or Android Auto, is that enough to be a show-stopper for you?

It almost was for me—I once vowed to never buy a new vehicle without CarPlay but I eventually caved when purchasing my Model 3. And while I still miss it, the in-car software gets the job done.

So what about you? Let me know in the comments.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *