By on January 20, 2011

“About 13.8 million vehicles were sold in 2010 in China compared with 11.6 million in the United States.”
The Detroit News

Yesterday, we had a short seminar on Chinese new car statistics. Apparently, it was needed. Too bad the Detroit News, Motor City’s hometown newspaper, skipped class. Message to the DetN:  It’s 18 million vehicles. 18,264,700 to be exact.

So where do the 13.8 come from? We know: In 2010, Chinese passenger car sales reached 13.76 million. However, that number excludes “commercial vehicles.” Common mistake. But shouldn’t happen to a Detroit paper.

Dear DetN: If you don’t count the Chinese “commercial vehicles”, then you can’t count the U.S. “trucks” either. You really don’t want to do that.

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13 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: The DetN Can’t Count...”


  • avatar
    N Number

    No large truck’s what?  No large truck’s bumpers, used motor oil, axles?  What belonging to a large truck does the sign writer not want?
     
    I’ll never understand how unnecessary apostrophes have become so epidemic.  You do not need an apostrophe to pluralize a word or warn of an impending ‘s’.

  • avatar

    Oh, the DetN can count alright… what that paper apparently can’t do is print anything that goes against the Motown line. I pity the fact that gets between the DetN and the perception that all is well with the US auto business/market.
    Of course there is this outmoded perception floating around that newspapers are supposed to tell the truth no matter how unpopular… but giving that wild-eyed theory any credence is as bad as admitting that the automotive center of gravity has shifted to China. Dying businesses gotta stick together!

    • 0 avatar

      admitting that the automotive center of gravity has shifted to China
      Ed, that’s somewhat ironic coming a day after Changan announced that they will be opening up an engineering office in the Detroit area. Detroit’s future is as the center of the global auto industry, not just the domestic automakers.
      I’ve been harping on this subject for years now. SEMI is filled with foreign owned companies. I can take you on a 30 minute freeway drive and you’ll see names like Bosch, Yuaza, Denso, Zeiss and others. Toyota has a billion dollar R&D center in Ann Arbor and another research facility in Plymouth. Hyundai builds engines in Dundee (part of a JV that dissolved when Daimler and Chrysler split up). When I was actively following the Indian auto biz a couple of years back, Indian companies were buying up Detroit area auto suppliers.
      The way I look at it is that in LA they don’t see themselves as making “American movies” (actually they massage scripts to make them more popular with overseas audiences to boost international revenue). In New York on Wall Street they don’t see themselves as making “American money”. Those cities are the global centers of the film and finance industries.
      Detroit is the same for cars. It’s just that Detroiters are emotionally married to the domestics so the locals don’t even see what’s happened over the past 3 decades in terms of foreign investment around here. It would do this region a lot of good if we stopped seeing ourselves as making American cars and started seeing our region as the hub of a global industry.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, the DetN can count alright… what that paper apparently can’t do is print anything that goes against the Motown line
      C’mon Ed. I’m sure that you’ve read Daniel Howes’ stuff in the DetNews. Heck, he even has TTAC in his relatively short blogroll. He’s hardly a rah rah booster for the Big 3 and how things have been done around here. Nolan Finley also frequently speaks out against the status quo.
      I wonder, though, if the Detroit papers do any more cheerleading for the local industries, than the New York papers do vis a vis Wall Street and the LA Times does regarding the film industry.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    It was a grammatical error? Maybe they were supposed to write 18.3 but someone mistakenly put down 13.8? Hey, my guess is as good as any.

  • avatar

    Bertel, the local Detroit media has never included commercial vehicles in their sales/production figures. Stuff like SAAR only includes cars and light trucks, nothing bigger than a F-150 or Silverado. I don’t even think they include vehicles like the Ford Super Duty trucks. Certainly the medium duty trucks that GM & Ford make (F-450,550,650 & GM’s similar trucks) and the large trucks made by companies like International and Peterbilt have never been included in those figures.
    I’ve spoken to members of the local media, guys like Mark Phelan at the DetNews and Rod Meloni who covers business for WDIV tv, and covering cars in Detroit is not like writing about the topic for a paper in Dubuque. I’ve watched Phelan, Meloni and Mary Conway (WXYZ tv) work and they do a creditable job covering cars and the car biz. Sure, there are print and broadcast journalists working in Detroit that are relatively clueless about cars and the car biz and can’t do more than just read a press release, but in general the local media doesn’t make too many factual errors about the car biz.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Since the no countries agree on how to count vehicle sales as commercial or retail, it is the DetN fault?  If we count commercial vehicles, what is the actual sales numbers for the US?  I think it is in poor taste to criticize a publication for reporting number when no global standard for reporting these numbers exists.

  • avatar

    Most of the planet classes a truck as something over 3.500kg GVM smaller vehicles that can be driven on a car licence are cars.

  • avatar

    It is common knowledge in the industry that China has no “Light Vehicle” count.Heck, most of the world doesn’t have a light vehicle count. It’s a U.S. invention to compensate for the fact that around half of the “cars” on U.S. streets are “trucks”.
    It also is known in the industry that due to the different ways of counting, ALL motor-vehicles with more than 4 wheels are counted. The few heavy trucks and buses don’t change the situation much.
    The DetN doesn’t even try to fudge. They could have said “13.8 million cars” and left a backdoor open. Instead. they said 13.8 million vehicles.”.

    And if it’s poor taste to criticize that, then I promise to keep up the poor taste.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin L. Copple

      In China light trucks are not bought for personal transportation use as they are in the USA.  You are wrong to say ‘If you don’t count the Chinese “commercial vehicles”, then you can’t count the U.S. “trucks” either.’ It’s more than a matter of bad taste, it’s being wrong about someone else being wrong, all about difficult to compare numbers. Ease up a bit, pal.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      Kevin, It all depends on your perspective. How do you classify a pickup truck bought and used by a farmer in his farm, personal transportation? Or work truck?
      What do you think about those who buy a mircovan from Wuling? Don’t you think it will be used for all kinds of purposes, when this is probably the first, and, one and only one vehicle their families own for quite some time?
       

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin L. Copple

      You make a good point, Norma.  Comparing the two markets is difficult in many ways.  Simply counting the number of vehicles is only the tip of the iceberg, but significant nonetheless.

      To continue my argumentative ways, let me say that farmers and ranchers make up only 2% of the US population.  Most pickups in the States serve purely non-commercial purposes.  The same is true for SUVs that are classified as “trucks” in the States.

      On the other hand, there are a large number of commercial vehicles in China whose purpose is to provide commuting transportation.  Buses and vans substitute for private automobiles more in China compared to the US, not to mention the greater use of trains and subways.   

      At my apartment complex in Tianjin, China, an F-150 would be nearly unusable due to the small parking space and tight maneuvering required by more people buying a car than expected by the planners.  Often I wish my Jetta were a slightly shorter Golf. 

      Beijing is putting limits on private car ownership, just as Shanghai has for some time.  I expect the same in Tianjin and other cities sooner or later.  Curiously, the use of motorcycles is largely prohibited in Tianjin (I’d guess this is true of other large cities here as well).  To me the sub-one-liter passenger cars are little more than enclosed motorcycles, as some of the enclosed 3-wheelers literally are–whether all these get counted in the China vehicle totals, I don’t know.  Many vehicles seem to me nearly in the same class as golf carts and riding lawn mowers.


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