Ratchet & Wrench Article About 52% Of Vehicles Are Foreign
I just read a Ratchet & Wrench magazine article that said foreign cars make up 52% of all vehicles on the road. While that may be true, it could easily be misleading. Here’s why:
Great article, but it might mislead somebody trying to specialize in a particular European make, or European vehicles in general because Euro makes are a very small percentage of vehicles on the road.
In the U.S., ALL EUROPEAN makes combined only make up slightly over 10% of the vehicles of the vehicles on the road. In our state of Utah, it’s even lower at 7%. I know that sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. I’m not talking about Asian brands. I’m just talking about European vehicles only. Here’s the story…
When we were looking for a location to open our transmission specialty shop somewhere in the greater Salt Lake City area, we purchased a list of every registered vehicle in Salt Lake County for $400. Because such information is protected, the DMV removed 3 fields of personally identifiable information, Name, Street, and Plate Number. Other than those 3 fields, we got more information than we really needed, like the month and year the registration is due.
I then imported all the data into MS Access and created a query trying to find out what zip codes had the highest concentrations of 10-year old and newer vehicles. Long story made short, that zip code was 84020, Draper, Utah and that’s where we located our shop, but that’s not the point of this comment. It’s only background information for what I’m about to say.
I discovered that ALL European vehicles combined, make up only 6% of the vehicle population in Salt Lake County. In our affluent zip code, that number is only 8%. I didn’t believe it because I know I see more than that simply driving. After much checking and rechecking, the numbers are correct. Remember, these numbers are ALL European makes, not just 1 or 2 makes.
I then went to the Federal Highway Administration (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov) to find out what the percentage was nationally and could not find registration information by make. The best I could do on a national level was to access Automotive News’ data center (http://www.autonews.com/) and see what percentage of new cars sold in the US were European. The number was 10.1%. I couldn’t believe that number either.
After months and months of thinking about it as well as observations while driving, I finally figured it out. Here’s the deal: When we see a Euro vehicle on the road, we take notice. It’s what I now call “a head turner”. However, if it’s a U.S. or Asian brand, it’s just traffic. That’s why the numbers are so low, but mentally seem much higher.
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