The Truth About Cars » Statistics The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Statistics Traffic Deaths Up Slightly, Truth Among The Victims Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:32:45 +0000  

16,290 people were killed in road accidents from January through June, says the NHTSA. For the first time since 2006, deaths are up. The NHTSA does not know why fatalities are up, but the usual suspects have already been rounded up.

Said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, to Reuters:

“Clearly there’s room for improvement in distracted driving – we would like all 50 states to pass texting bans. We’d practically eliminate alcohol impaired driving if we could get all offenders to use an ignition interlock.”

In the meantime, even the NHTSA warns that one should not jump to conclusions:

It should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years —a pattern which has continued through the early estimates for 2011 released recently that show deaths at a 60-year low — means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure. In fact, fatalities during the first half of the year have declined by about 27 percent from the recent high in 2006 to the low during the first half of 2011 (from 20,500 fatalities in 2006 to a projected 14,950 fatalities in 2011 during the first six months of the year).”

Apparently, Ms. Harsha did not read that part. Instead she says that “We may just be going back to the way it was before.”

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The Truth About All The Cars Of China Fri, 22 Jul 2011 12:38:46 +0000

Soon you’ll read all over Google that China has 217 million cars. Don’t believe it. It’s not true.

Motorvehicles China June 2011

Motor vehicles China 6/2011 (Millions)
Automobiles 98.46
Of those passenger (est) 62.97
Of those commercial (est) 35.49
Motorcycles 102.00
Other 16.54
Total motor vehicles 217.00
Automobiles per thousand pop 73
Passenger vehicles per thousand pop 47

(Blue: TTAC estimate. Source: Xinhua)

“The number of motor vehicles in China hit 217 million as of the end of June,” based on registration data issued by China’s Ministry of Public Security, as reported by state news agency Xinhua.

However, in China, anything that is propelled by an engine and needs a license plate counts as a “motor vehicle.” Motor cycles are about half of the 217 million total. 98 million of the motor vehicles on China’s roads are “automobiles”, leaving 16.54 million in the “other” category (tanks?).  So it’s 98 million cars? Not exactly.

Automobile Production China

Year Passenger Commercial Total Pass. Comm.
2010 13,897,083 4,367,584 18,264,667 76.09% 23.91%
2009 10,383,831 3,407,163 13,790,994 75.29% 24.71%
2008 6,737,745 2,561,435 9,299,180 72.46% 27.54%
2007 6,381,116 2,501,340 8,882,456 71.84% 28.16%
2006 5,233,132 1,955,576 7,188,708 72.80% 27.20%
2005 3,078,153 2,629,535 5,707,688 53.93% 46.07%
2004 2,480,231 2,754,265 5,234,496 47.38% 52.62%
2003 2,018,875 2,424,811 4,443,686 45.43% 54.57%
2002 1,101,696 2,185,108 3,286,804 33.52% 66.48%
2001 703,521 1,630,919 2,334,440 30.14% 69.86%
2000 604,677 1,464,392 2,069,069 29.22% 70.78%
1999 565,366 1,264,587 1,829,953 30.90% 69.10%
1998 507,103 1,120,726 1,627,829 31.15% 68.85%
Tot 53,692,529 30,267,441 83,959,970 63.95% 36.05%

Source: OICA

The “automobiles” again are divided down into passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles.  Currently, 76 percent of China’s production is passenger vehicles, 24 commercial. When I came to China first in 2004, the ratio was  47:53.  Totaling up the available data since 1998 gives a ratio of 64:36. (In China, “production” and “sales” can be used interchangeably on the macro level. Imports and exports don’t have much impact.) Using the average passenger-to-commercial ratio produces an estimated 64 million passenger vehicles on China’s roads, that compete with 35 million commercial vehicles for space on China’s clogged roads.

There are 73 “automobiles” per thousand people in China. There are approximately 47 passenger vehicles per thousand in China.  In the G7, that number is around 600, in the U.S.A., there are more than 800 automobiles  per thousand people.  China has many years of growth ahead. Private cars already account for more than 70 percent of the country’s total, says the ministry.

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How To Lie With Car Statistics Fri, 11 Feb 2011 14:50:10 +0000

Car sales in India powered ahead in January. India added 184,332 passenger cars to its roads, up 26.3 percent. According to the Hindustan Times, this was  “the highest ever in a month eclipsing the previous record set only three months ago.” Allow me to use this opportunity for a small lecture on the use and abuse of auto industry statistics, in Asia, and around the world.

Whenever you see a sales number reported, make sure that you know what it is about. Have a look at this graph, also from the Hindustan Times.  It looks spiffy. But it is an egregious example of what can go wrong.

The headline says: “ With 13.2 lakh vehicles, domestic auto sales were 19% up.” God help us.

First of, what is a lakh? As India gets important, it will be a term we will see often, so we better familiarize us with it. A lakh in India is 100,000.

Now 13.2 lakh vehicles would be 1.32 million. Did India buy 1.32 million autos in January? No way. India bought some 184,000 cars in January, and 1.32 million vehicles. How’s that? The Indians insist on counting three and two-wheelers as motor vehicles. This confuses everybody.

Here at TTAC, we try to follow the OICA model and count the total of “cars” and “commercial vehicles”.

OICA defines a motor vehicle as something that has ”at least four wheels, used for the transport of passengers, and comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat.” OICA and we add “commercial vehicles” to that count,  because there is no clear worldwide definition of when a truck is “commercial” and when not. If we would eliminate all the “trucks” from the U.S. count for instance, America would end up having half the cars it has. (Trust me, there are statistics out there that say just that.)

If you check the graph, you see:

184,332 passenger cars, up 26.28 percent
233,994 passenger vehicles, up 24.68 percent
60,753 commercial vehicles, up 12.5 percent

That would amount, if there is no double counting, to 479,079 units as per our and OICA’s definition sold in January in India.

But there is double counting:  According to the Indian industry association SIAM,  “passenger vehicles” are the total of  passenger cars, utility vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles (i.e. cars, SUVs and MPVs). Therefore, the actual total is 294,747. Phew!

When you read sentences like “Two-wheeler sales, which constitute almost 75 percent of total automobile sales in the country…” then it’s time to pause and to check a little more.

You think that’s just an Indian confusion? Be prepared to be surprised. Confusion reigns all over the world, and on this side of the pond as well.

The official 2010 sales number for China, according to the China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) is 18,061,900. This is the total of all motor vehicles according to OICA, no two- or three-wheelers included.

Many media outlets, such as the Detroit News, insist that “About 13.8 million vehicles were sold in 2010 in China compared with 11.6 million in the United States.” They didn’t say “cars”. They said “vehicles.” Not even motor vehicles. Sorry, wrong number. Nevertheless, that erroneous number is making the rounds.

There were 13.76 million “passenger cars” sold in China plus more than 4 million so called “commercial vehicles”.  The total of motor vehicles sold was 18,061,900.

Also, since we are nitpicking, the size of the automotive industry of a country is (as per OICA) measured by production, not by sales. That can have dramatic impact for countries such as Japan, Korea, or Germany which have a high rate of export.

In China, the impact of exports is negligible. Here is the official word on the topic, straight from China’s CAAM:

“From January to December this year, China automobile production reached 18,264,700 units, an increase of 32.44% compared with the same period of last year; Production of passenger cars was 13,897,100 units, up 33.83 percent year on year; the output of commercial vehicle was 4,367,600 units, increased by 28.19% compared with the same period of last year.”

Let’s recap:

Be sure what you count: Cars? Trucks? Motorcycles? Trikes? The worldwide accepted benchmark used for  the ranking of  manufacturers and countries is  all motor vehicles with 4 wheels or more that don’t run on rails.

Are you counting sales or production? Both have their place, but they need to be kept apart. The worldwide accepted benchmark used for the ranking of  manufacturers and countries is production.

When you really want to know, go straight to the source. Numbers are misreported at an alarming rate.

Class dismissed!

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Progress, Or Something Like It Edition Mon, 03 May 2010 20:57:14 +0000

We love us some data here at TTAC, and since we’re already looking at a grip of sales data today, we thought we’d add this excellent infographic that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times to the mix. It depicts America’s per-capita miles driven on the x-axis, and the price of gasoline on the y-axis, and shows that the two aren’t as inextricably linked as some might have thought. As we try to make sense of monthly sales data and look for “the new normal,” this kind of data provides a crucial context for month-by-month trends. We hope you find it as enjoyable and illuminating as we did.

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A Peek Under the Hood Mon, 23 Feb 2009 00:19:56 +0000 If you wanted a ride, all you had to do was ask. (courtesy


Google Analytics provides an interesting look as to how visitors reach a website. I’d like to give our B&B some examples of how others (those who do not subscribe to the RSS feed or those who’ve not bookmarked TTAC) come our way and you’ll find the reason near the end of this post.

Below is a selection of the most interesting “entrance keywords” in the hope of giving you an insight in to the psyche of the non-B&B. Consider this: TTAC receives orders of magnitude more visitors than we have registered users. And, of registered users, a relatively small percentage are active participants (guest writers and active commenters), a.k.a. the Best & Brightest.

Between now and the first of the year, people typed “thetruthaboutcars” (nearly 30,000 times) into Google Search. Are these people unclear on the concept? Sure, some of these people may be anti-bookmark—or have so many bookmarks (like me) that they’re useless—and type the name and let autocomplete autocomplete their request—but 30,000?

Moreover, more than 50,000 times people Google-searched “ttac”—same concept, folks, as redirects here.

Now, this one . . . um, really?! Nearly 4,000 Google-searched “”. I know none of our B&B do that. B&B, see how bright you really are?

Nearly 2,000 times the phrase “nissan versa defroster broken” brought us visitors. Good luck to whomever needs it, but I don’t think we can help. You may want to let Mr. Karesh know, though.

About 1,200 times the phrase “subaru poor man’s volvo” directed folks to us. The mind boggles.

Anyone care to guess how the phrase “pick-up, arkansas, froggers, fuses, and 22 cartridge” sent approximately 1,300 visitors here? Hint: you’ll know it if you believe in evolution.

If ever you have doubted the conundrum that is GM branding, a little over 1,000 searches of “what is a buick” directed visitors here.

Oh, now this is creepy: 666 searches of “suv flying vagina” brought us visitors. Farago’s got to be proud . . . .

Finally, it seems a famous (or is he infamous?) auto journalist and former TTAC contributor is revisiting his article (or maybe just the comments): 386 searches for “grosse pointe myopians” were made in the last month or so.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Back when we ran the survey on what terms we should use on TTAC, there were a few comments made to the effect that TTAC visitors are smart enough to figure out the various terms used by our esteemed writers. Now that you have the Analytics information that I have presented, do you think that’s true? Speaking of that survey . . . please see my next post.

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