One of the most innovative companies of our age, Tesla revived the dying electric car market and made it popular to drive cars that received a lukewarm reception in the past. Now many car companies have followed Tesla’s lead and hopped into the electric vehicle market. Being a company of great innovation, you may wonder if Tesla is made in the USA.
In the rest of this article, we’ll explain exactly where Tela cars are made and share other important information about the company.
Most Tesla cars are made in Fremont, California, but the company recently opened a facility near Austin, Texas, where they will make the Model 3 compact sedan, Model Y Series, Semi, and Cybertruck. In 2021, the Tesla Model 3 was ranked as the most American made car.
What American Made Models Does Tesla Produce? Is Tesla American Made?
You won’t struggle too much to find American made car models from Tesla since all the cars sold in the United States were made there. Many of the car components were produced there as well, which means that they weren’t simply assembled in the United States but truly made there.
Some of the American made models that you might consider from Tesla include:
- Model S
- Model 3
- Model X
- Model Y
They currently build all their vehicle models at their manufacturing plant in Fremont, but we can expect to see a new factory in Austin, Texas. It will open on April 7, 2022. At that point, not all of the models will come from the factory in Fremont.
Founder Elon Musk – Not an American?
Being such a great American patriot, many people are surprised to learn that the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk is, in fact, not American born—he was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and immigrated to the US to escape the mandatory military service of his home country. Despite that, he has shown us the true values of what it means to live the American dream. Musk has spoken about the United States as the “Land of Opportunity.”
For further evidence of this being an American brand, Musk also hit back at President Biden in a spat between the two saying that the Model 3 was the most American made car in the United States. In a way, it’s ironic that Old World American automakers like GM continue to send the manufacturing jobs down to Mexico while Musk, someone who wasn’t even born here, has done his best to keep everything in America.
Why are Tesla Cars so American Made?
One of the key reasons that Tesla can stand out as more American made comes from their involved processes. They use vertical integration to design the circuit boards themselves. Vertical integration often means that the company continues to build many of the parts by itself. We have seen this with the many factories that Tesla builds around the US for making its car parts.
We should appreciate another fact of the brand making it in the top 10 most American made list—they’re the first electric car brand to pull this off. Not only did they put the Model 3 in the top-ranking spot, but they put the Model Y in the third-ranking spot. Keep in mind, this may change from year to year as they redesign their vehicles and need new parts.
The index for ranking car brands may not be perfect, but it uses information like the US manufacturing jobs and the US manufacturing of components. In some cases, getting this information from companies has proven tricky since not all companies will give up that information willingly.
Some believe that the Giga factory in Texas will help the Tesla brand to become even more American made.
How to Buy an American Made Tesla
On the whole, you don’t have to worry too much about this company, but we would still recommend that you check ahead of time to see that your vehicle was made in the United States. Due to a federal law in 1992, automakers must disclose the origin of their vehicles.
Still, there are many ways that automakers get around this. Unfortunately, Chevy, while it has an American made image, only assembles its vehicles in the United States, and many times, they do even that in Mexico. Tesla, on the other hand, is much better.
To check the origin and amount of parts sourced in the United States, we recommend looking at the AALA List.
This shows you all the vehicle brands as well as how many of the components that they have made in the USA and Canada. Each model will differ due to differing requirements. The one thing that we dislike about this comes from how it can be misleading because of how it mixes the US with Canada.
If looking on the dealership lot, check the window sticker because AALA requires them to show the following information on the window sticker of new cars:
- The percentage of US and Canadian parts used
- Must show the names of countries contributing over 15 percent in components
- Country of origin for the engine
- Country of origin for the transmission
- The final assembly plant in the city, state, or country
Keep in mind, you do need to take the AALA list with a grain of salt since automakers can manipulate it, but it can help with the origin.
The other way to tell is to check the VIN. While this won’t include information about the percentage of American sourced parts, it will give you an undeniable source about where they assembled it. Look for VINs that start with 1, 4, or 5. If they don’t have that as the starting number, then it wasn’t made in the United States.
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What Does Tesla Not Make in the USA?
For the Model X and the Model S, they produce the battery cells in Japan. That’s one of the things that would hold the brand back from being American made. Although to be fair, none of the mass-produced cars were 100-percent made in the United States. We may see the number go up with their investment in Texas.
We would say that Tesla uses on average about 50 percent US and Canadian content in its vehicles. An estimated 25 percent of it comes from Mexico, and the last 25 percent comes from a scattering of several countries.
To better understand this, let’s look at how it works. Tesla works with suppliers for the materials and components of its vehicles. Some of the suppliers may not use a source based in the United States. We also have to look at the fact that these car companies are trying to make things more affordable for the average customer. Having absolutely everything made in the United States would make the car affordable to only the elite few.
The batteries would be the least American made thing from Tesla, but many other components come from Germany, the Czech Republic, Japan, and other countries. Just because it’s the most American made doesn’t mean that everything comes from there.
Tesla Production in Fremont
Tesla first took ownership of the previous GM factory in 2010. Before that point, GM operated at the facility since 1962. Today, the premises cover 5.3 million square feet, and it sits on 370 acres of land. To better show where it’s at, the Fremont factory is situated 37.9 miles from San Francisco.
Along with investing in its factory in Texas, Tesla may have plans to continue with its investment in Fremont. However, Elon Musk has threatened to pull out of the state of California several times and move the operations over to a “right-to-work” state. Still, he has also talked about expanding the factory in Fremont, and we find this a more likely course of action due to the investment in it already.
The factory in Fremont has run out of space, which has complicated matters for the company. While we do think an expansion will come to the Fremont factory since Musk tweeted about it several times, we don’t think that it will happen until after they expand their imprint in Texas since that appears to be their priority. They also opened a factory in Germany recently to serve the European markets.
Since 2010, this factory has served as the flagship for Tesla production in the United States. Elon Musk has been hot and cold at times about his operations in California. However, everything happens at the factory in Fremont. Even the tests for the Tesla Cybertruck have been conducted there.
To understand the scale of operations in Fremont, Tesla hired over 10,000 workers at its factory there in 2022. When Tesla first bought this facility back in 2010, it was 10 times the size that they needed, and much of the operations were concentrated in one area with most of it going unused. They started with a workforce of 1,000 employees and grew from there.
Other signs of Tesla investing more money into the factory come from its shareholder meeting on October 7, 2021. Elon Musk spoke with investors and said that he hoped to increase production up to 50 percent more at the facility in Fremont.
We would say that about 60 percent of all the car parts that Tesla sources come from the United States and Canada. The second-biggest supplier of Tesla components comes from Japan.
One of the interesting quirks about Tesla is that they prefer to deliver their components by train, rather than by semis because of the lower cost and the lower risk of damage.
Currently, most of the Tesla vehicles are from this factory, but that could change as Tesla puts up its factory in Austin.
If you’d like to see the inside operations at the factory in Fremont, check out the video below:
Made in Texas
We have seen how Elon Musk appears to favor Texas lately when he moved its headquarters to the new factory going up near Austin. Part of this decision had to do with Musk clashing with local officials in Alameda County, California. It was during a time when the governments were shutting everything down.
Over time, the Texas factory will cost $10 billion, and instead of hiring 10,000 workers, Musk plans to hire 20,000 workers at the factory there. They eventually hope to produce 400,000 cars at their factory in Austin.
Tesla plans to operate five facilities in this region. Musk may have chosen this because Texas has no income tax, and California has an income tax rate of 13.3 percent. Regardless of the state, we like that Tesla has chosen to make it in America.
We will see 20,000 directly employed individuals, but the indirect jobs related to Tesla’s operation looks closer to 100,000. Once they complete this building, Tesla expects that it will break a record as the largest building in the world. They designed it to power up using clean energy. They will also receive tax breaks of at least $14.7 million for building the facility in Texas. The factory will sit along the Colorado River, which will have a hiking trail, a boardwalk, and a biking trail to make it a great ecological area.
Tesla Runs the Most Productive Automobile Factory in America
In the past, you had the Detroit 3, which referred to Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Chrysler went bankrupt and is no longer even American owned. General Motors nearly went bankrupt, but with the two remaining companies, we have seen a shift in their US manufacturing. They largely no longer manufacture cars and have switched more toward SUVs and trucks because it makes more money. You can learn more about that here.
On the other hand, Tesla has picked up the torch of American innovation in vehicles and has gone on to be listed by Bloomberg as the most productive auto factory in America. In 2021, they were producing 8,550 cars per week at the factory in Fremont. We expect this number to incline drastically with their new plant in Austin.
This also came at a year when much of the auto industry struggled with supply chain issues. Tesla was not among them—they may have struggled, but because of their vertical integration processes, they could manipulate the process better than other companies. For example, they could look for suppliers that still had parts, and they could shift their own manufacturing to align with that better to make the vehicle with those parts. It gave them a huge competitive advantage in a market where everyone else was struggling to keep specific models of cars on the lot.
Other Tesla Factories in the United States
While Tesla has two main factories for the assembly of its vehicles, they do operate other factories in the United States to build the components for vehicles. Some of these factories are more like third-party factories, such as they have a long-time partnership with Panasonic to create better technologies for their batteries.
Panasonic is, in fact, the largest battery supplier for Tesla. At one point in its history, Tesla struggled to find suppliers who would sell them battery cells.
Tesla operates seven factories in the United States including:
- Fremont, California (2 factories)
- Lathrop, California (1 factory)
- Austin, Texas (1 factory)
- Grand Rapids, Michigan (1 factory)
- Storey County, Nevada (1 factory)
- Buffalo, New York (1 factory)
Keep in mind, this shows you the big picture of all the Tesla manufacturing processes in the United States—meaning everything even not related to cars. For example, their facility in Buffalo is not entirely for cars but for manufacturing the Tesla solar roof and the Tesla supercharger. If you’re interested in some of Tesla’s solar panel manufacturing you can see our full resources.
If you were to look at the entire operations in the United States, they hire 18,600 employees. This doesn’t account for the factory in Austin that they eventually hope to have 20,000 additional employees at. When this happens, they will have 38,600 employees in total working for them in the United States in manufacturing.
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Is Tesla Made in China?
Tesla operates a factory in Shanghai that has surpassed the production in Fremont at 600,000 vehicles per year. We believe that they intended this more for the Chinese and Asian markets, especially considering the high tariffs on Chinese vehicles in the United States. Questionable quality has also made it more exclusive to the Chinese market since many US consumers don’t want a Chinese made vehicle.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t import Tesla vehicles to the US from China, however. The automaker exported around 100,000 vehicles to over 10 countries in its first eight months of being open, including the United States. We don’t, however, think that Chinese manufacturing from Tesla will become a huge player in the US market due to the tariffs and the fact that Tesla has invested over $10 billion into its factory in Texas.
There’s a certain level of prestige that the brand enjoys from being highly made in America, and they would lose that favored status if they chose to make too many of their vehicles for the US in China. We believe that they did this more to fulfill the rising demand for Tesla vehicles and to fill the shortage gaps where needed.
This does give some cause for concern to watch the vehicles that you buy from Tesla. Make sure that it comes from an American factory. Chinese Tesla cars will also contain 86 percent in Chinese sourced parts. Like with their US-made vehicles, they tend to use the local suppliers in the country that they manufacture in. We find this an interesting fact about Tesla and its manufacturing processes and worth noting because of how it differs from other companies. Again, we think this goes back to its vertical integration process which makes it more favorable to do it this way.
The operations in Shanghai have 15,000 Tesla employees, which makes it one of the largest manufacturing operations for Tesla except for the facility in Austin once they get it going up to speed.
Tesla: Made in Germany
Along with constructing a new factory in Austin, Tesla will begin a new factory in Grünheide, Germany, 23.4 miles to the east of Berlin. Tesla has said that the facility in Berlin will mark one of its most advanced operations. They will build 500,000 cars at the facility. While not American made, Germany has a great reputation for its quality in manufacturing.
This does mark out a smaller operation than in Austin because how they only plan to invest $5 billion into it. Elon Musk has said that he hopes his Tesla cars will surpass the current leader in the European market—Volkswagen. They already overtook Volkswagen on a global level as the second most valuable automaker behind Toyota. They haven’t been able to overtake them in Europe, however.
Before the new factory went up, Tesla built two other factories in Germany—one in Prum and one in Neutraubling. Both of those factories produce automation equipment for their manufacturing, rather than vehicles. The factory going up in Grünheide will be their first automaker factory.
The Tesla Model Y in particular will come from the factory in Berlin to serve the local markets.
That does it for this article, if you have any further questions about where Tesla cars are made let us know in the comments below. If you’re looking to support a company that supports America, we think Tesla is a great choice. They have an awesome manufacturing presence in the United States, and we don’t see that changing in the future, especially with the recent investments in American manufacturing. Tesla ranks as one of the few automakers that manufacture and assemble vehicles right in the United States creating thousands of jobs for Americans.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Choosing products made in America is important to me because it supports local economies, creates jobs, helps the environment, and ensures ethical labor practices. I also find that American made products are usually of higher quality so although they’re a little more expensive, you save money in the long run. Before starting this website I was in the USMC infantry and nowadays I work on this website as a hobby.