Ever wonder who buys more American cars than anyone else? We did and we crunched some numbers to find out.

The question of “who is most American” is often asked, especially when national elections are underway. Although debate over which car brand is “more American” than another can be endless, the question of which domestic brands (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, etc.) are purchased most often in each state is something that can be easily quantified. We looked at over 2 million used car sales between September 2015 and August 2016 state-by-state and extracted the percentage of those that were of domestic make.

Our findings indicate that the type of vehicle most popular in each state and the proximity to the nation’s traditional center for automotive manufacture were major factors in percentage of domestic vehicles sold. A few other things also likely play into what we’ve found.

Before jumping into that, let’s look at the overall numbers. These show that the total number of domestic makes being sold nationally equals almost exactly half (50.4 percent) of the total vehicle sales in the United States. American brand passenger cars make up about 19 percent of the overall sales in that sector, but that lower percentage is countered by the 14 percent of trucks that are dominated by American brands (12 percent). These figures play into our findings regarding where domestic brands make up the most sales and where they are the least.

State % American Cars
MI 80.1%
SD 77.9%
WY 74.9%
ND 74.6%
IA 72.4%
MT 71.4%
NE 70.5%
IN 66.2%
ID 65.9%
WI 65.9%
OK 64.9%
AK 64.7%
WV 64.5%
MO 64.5%
KS 63.6%
AR 63.2%
MN 62.1%
KY 61.7%
OH 60.5%
MS 59.2%
LA 56.3%
NM 55.9%
IL 55.5%
AL 53.0%
ME 52.0%
TX 52.0%
TN 51.5%
DE 51.4%
SC 50.9%
PA 50.5%
CO 49.1%
NC 48.8%
WA 48.5%
AZ 48.4%
UT 47.2%
OR 46.9%
GA 45.4%
NV 45.1%
VT 44.8%
NY 43.5%
VA 43.4%
NH 43.3%
MD 40.6%
FL 40.2%
RI 40.1%
MA 36.5%
CT 34.8%
CA 34.5%
NJ 34.5%
HI 31.2%

 

Michigan dominates our list of states with the most American car brands on the road. This is not a surprise, given that Detroit and surrounds are traditionally the epicenter of American car manufacture. Compared to the other 49 states, Michigan towers over all at over 80 percent and from there, domestic purchases of vehicles radiate south and westward to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, and others. These states are generally rural and are places where pickup trucks tend to dominate vehicle sales when compared to other states. This helps to explain their being so high on our list of states where domestic vehicles seem to own the market.

On the other hand, those states at the bottom of our rankings – those states with the lowest percentage of domestic brand sales in the total automotive market – are states in which urban centers and more compact living are the norm. Places like Hawaii, New Jersey, and California have far fewer truck purchases as a total share of market than do those states topping our list. They’re also coastal and less weather diverse, adding to the lower likelihood of a vehicle purchase being a truck or SUV. So given overall sales numbers nationally, it would make sense that the majority of the passenger vehicles sold in those more urban-dominated states would not be American brands of vehicles.

It should be noted that domestic brands of vehicles don’t necessarily mean “most American” in terms of manufacture. That, as mentioned earlier, is a completely different debate and one we’ll save for another day.

Methodology:

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 2 million used cars sold from September 2015 through August 2016. The number of cars sold in each state from American automakers was expressed as a percentage of the total number of cars sold in the state, and this percentage share was used to tank all the states. The following set of automakers were identified as American brands: AM General, AMC, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Daewoo, Dodge,Eagle, Fisker, Ford, Geo, GMC, Hummer, Jeep, Lincoln, Mercury, Merkur, Oldsmobile, Panoz, Plymouth, Pontiac, Ram, Saturn, SRT, Sterling, Tesla.

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