7 Shocking and Esoteric Automotive Data Facts

Edmunds' Senior Analyst discusses the numbers that caught her attention this week


 Jessica Caldwell, Senior Analyst 1. More cars than people?

China may be the world's largest new car market but the numbers look less impressive when you factor in the fact that it has 1.3 billion residents. In terms of the number of cars to people, the U.S. is a hard country to beat. Looking at a registered vehicle ratio of 0.8 cars per resident, it's clear this country has a love affair with the automobile. In fact, there are some places where the number of cars is higher than the number of people:

  • Montana, which has an endless number of interesting car facts (more to come), has 1.1 vehicles registered for every person.
  • Its neighbor to the east, South Dakota has 1.02 vehicles for every person.
  • Also in big sky country, Wyoming just makes the cut at 1.01 cars for every person

And the flip side, you ask? Which states have skin overwhelmingly outweighing the metal? No surprise here — New York has 0.57 cars for every person. And the nation's capital is even lower — Washington, D.C. has 0.47 cars for every person.

2. Not the typical neighborhood

There is an old saying — "the rich are different from you and me." But how different are they, really? In the sport of car buying, they are ridiculously different. The nation's most notoriously wealthy zip code, 90210, has buying patterns that are just a tad different when compared to the rest of the country.

Esoteric Automotive Data Facts

3. Not the typical neighborhood either

Ever heard of Glendive, Montana? Neither did I, which is a shame as it has proven to be a fascinating little place. In terms of car buying, I would consider it to be the polar opposite of Beverly Hills, 90210. The likelihood of seeing a truck on its roads is about 100% as it has the highest percentage of truck registrations in the country. Yes, a higher percentage than any market in Texas.

Here is the breakdown:

Esoteric Automotive Data Facts

Glendive residents love their trucks but aren't into luxury brands. Luxury vehicles made up less than 1% of Glendive's registration this year — the smallest of any DMA in the country.

Other Glendive fun facts courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • Its city motto — Good People Surrounded by Badlands
  • The area has only one FM radio station and it plays (yep, you guessed it!) country.

4. What's going on in Miami?

When you think of cars in Miami, images of expensive convertibles cruising down Ocean Drive most likely come to mind. That imagery isn't far off, seeing that Miami is one of the largest luxury markets in the country. However, looking at the Top 10 vehicles registered in the area, there is one that seems noticeably suspect. Can you spot it?

Esoteric Automotive Data Facts

If you guessed Ford Econoline, you guessed right. It's no error. It is the 8th most popular vehicle in the area based on registration data. So that means you are more likely to see a Ford Econoline on the streets of Miami than you are likely to see any singular vehicle from the nation's largest automaker, General Motors.

5. The state's new symbol

If the poppy is the official California state flower and the grizzly bear is the official California animal, the Toyota Prius should be the state's official car. How popular is the Prius in California? It's outselling whole states:

Esoteric Automotive Data Facts

6. Buying American

No city symbolizes the American auto industry more than Detroit, but do they own the highest percentage of American branded cars? If you guessed no, you were right. That honor goes to an area not so far away — Alpena, 250 miles away from the D in Northern Michigan. An incredible 93% of vehicles registered in Alpena hail from an American brand.

Not surprising, the rest of the state of Michigan does buy American: Out of the top 10 U.S. markets with the highest percentage of American-branded vehicles, five are in Michigan (Flint, Traverse City, Marquette, and Lansing are the other 4). Detroit comes in at #17.

7. Suzuki Swan Song

We were all sad about Suzuki's U.S. demise, as inevitable as it all seemed. None of us, however, were more upset than the great state of Kansas, which had a lot of love for the small Japanese brand. It was an unlikely pairing and even after the announcement that Suzuki would stop selling cars in the U.S., the brand continued to command a decent market share in the state. In fact, in terms of market share in 2013, it still ranks in the Top 20 among all brands with a 1.1% share.

These brands all have a smaller share than Suzuki in Kansas this year:

Esoteric Automotive Data Facts

I'm curious where these displaced Suzuki owners will go. My bet is on Subaru, as the U.S.'s largest Suzuki store, Suzuki of Wichita, has morphed into Subaru of Wichita. If you have five minutes, check out their Facebook page; it's quite entertaining and looks like a pretty fun place to be! Subaru's traditional markets are the Northeast, Northwest and Denver but perhaps Kansas will get on that list, too. We'll track it and report back in a future installment of Shocking and Esoteric facts.

Do you like numbers, too? If so, check out our Industry Data Center.

Jessica Caldwell is the Senior Director of Pricing & Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. Follow @jessrcaldwell on Twitter.

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