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Are American-Made Cars Easier to Find in the Inventory Shortage?

ford-f-150-2019-01-blue--exterior--profile--urban.jpg Ford F-150 Raptor | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Shoppers may commit to buying American-made vehicles for a number of reasons. Some hope to support the local economy by purchasing a car that contributes to job opportunities for American workers; others equate “American-made” to higher quality. In addition to these motives, choosing a vehicle from Cars.com’s American-Made Index can present a less obvious advantage during the current inventory shortage: more inventory and availability.

Related: Inventory Shortage Update: Should You Wait to Buy a Car?

To determine if American-made cars are easier to find than their globally sourced competitors, we looked at Cars.com dealer inventory and spent days on dealer lots searching for the index’s qualifying and disqualified vehicles. The index takes into account various factors including the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts, country of origin for all available engines and transmissions, U.S. manufacturing workforce and the location of final assembly. Out of more than 300 nameplates analyzed, 95 made the list for 2022.

While AMI models account for substantially higher levels of inventory, not all American-made models are widely available, and some will likely still be challenging to find. Below, we break down which AMI cars are most and least available, and how a vehicle’s final assembly location determines how long you can expect to wait if you order from the factory.

Are There More American-Made Cars Out There?

Among Cars.com dealers, the total inventory for all 95 qualifying vehicles was approximately 226,000 as of June 29, while disqualified vehicles accounted for an estimated 189,000 cars. This means shoppers will encounter about 20% more qualifying than disqualified models.

Another predictor of vehicle availability is the average number of days a model spends on the dealer lot. Cars.com data show qualifying vehicles sell slightly faster than disqualified models: On average, qualifying vehicles stay on dealer lots for 23 days, while disqualified vehicles remain on the lot for an average of 25 days. The average for the top 10 most available AMI models is 36 days, and the least available American-made cars stay on dealer lots an average of 32 days.

Below are the most and least available vehicles with average inventory among Cars.com dealers through late June along with each model’s average days on dealer lots and average price.

Detroit Three Top List of Most Available Cars

2022 Ram 1500 Limited 10th Edition front three-quarters 2022 Ram 1500 Limited 10th Anniversary Edition | Manufacturer image

1. Ram 1500: 21,693 (average inventory); 44 (average days on dealer lots); $57,705 (average price)
2. Ford F-150: 17,019; 33; $63,463
3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 10,803; 25; $53,293
4. Jeep Gladiator: 10,538; 50; $54,078
5. Jeep Grand Cherokee: 9,841; 32; $55,019
6. Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer: 8,260; 67; $83,835
7. Ford Explorer: 7,572; 35; $49,994
8. Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport: 7,545; 26; $44,346
9. Jeep Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited: 6,573; 26; $52,331
10. Hyundai Santa Fe: 5,189; 22; $38,732

Out of the most available American-made cars, U.S.-based automakers topped the list for the highest average inventory. The Detroit Three — Ford, GM (parent to Chevrolet) and Stellantis (parent to Jeep and Ram) — took eight of the top 10 spots for the highest inventory.

Notably, top-ranked AMI brand Tesla is excluded because the automaker sells directly to consumers.

Least Available American-Made Cars

chevrolet-corvette-z06-3lz-coupe-2023-01-exterior-front-angle-silver 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

1. Nissan Leaf: 25; 20; $33,329
2. Chevrolet Corvette: 39; 14; $100,666
3. Acura ILX: 41; 59; $32,793
4. Honda Odyssey: 117; 15; $46,474
5. Nissan Maxima: 137; 46; $43,802
6. BMW X4: 145; 9; $63,444
7. Volvo S60: 153; 115; $46,371
8. BMW X6: 217; 11; $95,317
9. Lexus ES hybrid: 277; 12; $51,444
10. Infiniti QX60: 298; 18; $63,014

Not all American-made cars are created equal when it comes to availability. AMI-ranked vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Honda Odyssey may be hard to find with low levels of inventory seen among Cars.com dealers. Following the above trend for U.S.-based automakers, only one model from the Detroit Three (the 2022 Chevrolet Corvette) landed on the list of least available vehicles among AMI-qualifying models.

What if You’re Ordering a Car?

hyundai-santa-fe-hybrid-2021-01-angle-exterior-front-suv-white 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

While the AMI encompasses more variables than just location of assembly, this component plays a significant role in vehicle factory orders. It may also indicate how long you’ll have to wait for the right model to show up at the dealership without a custom order: According to Forbes, it can take four weeks for a factory order to arrive if a vehicle is assembled in the U.S. or Canada, and 12 weeks or more if the car is built outside of North America. It’s worth noting that these are only estimates since order lead times vary widely depending on the make and model.

Hyundai spokesperson Michele Tinson confirmed that vehicles built at U.S. factories tend to arrive faster. “Vehicles that are built at [Hyundai’s Alabama plant, where the Santa Cruz is assembled in the U.S. along with the gas-only Elantra, Santa Fe and Tucson] do arrive to U.S. dealerships faster than those built in Korea due to several variables,” wrote Tinson in an email to Cars.com. “Hyundai does not place factory-built orders, but our dealerships have visibility into their incoming inventory pipeline and can help customers find the vehicle they want.”

The same is true for Toyota vehicles, according to spokesperson Curt McAllister.

“In general, it is about two weeks quicker to order a North American-built vehicle versus a Japan- built vehicle,” confirmed McAllister in an email to Cars.com. “There are other factors that can impact the amount of time [for a vehicle to arrive], especially in today’s environment, but on average, it is quicker to get a North American-built vehicle.”

Toyota vehicles with final assembly in the U.S. for model-year 2022 include the Avalon (including hybrid), Camry (including hybrid), Corolla (not including the hatchback) and Corolla Cross, Highlander (including hybrid), RAV4 Hybrid (excluding gas variant and Prime), Sequoia, Sienna and Tundra (including hybrid).

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Other Availability Considerations

In addition to AMI rankings, there are a variety of factors that impact a vehicle’s availability. Popularity of the model, body style and consumer awareness (or lack thereof) all play a role. In theory, less popular models should be easier to find because of reduced competition, but that’s not always the case: To manage the limited supply of microchips and other parts shortages, many automakers have shifted resources to their bestselling models, typically SUVs and pickup trucks. This may offer an explanation for the high inventory levels of bestsellers like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.

What About Price?

While finding the right vehicle during the inventory shortage is one piece of the puzzle, another challenge is finding an affordable option as new-car prices continue to climb. According to a recent J.D. Power sales report, the average new-car transaction price was expected to reach a record $44,907 for the first half of 2022 — a 17.5% increase from 2021. Based on Cars.com data, shoppers may pay an American-made premium: The average price among all qualifying AMI models comes in at $51,645 compared to disqualified cars at $47,643.

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