Quote Of The Day: The DetN Can't Count

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
quote of the day the detn can t count

“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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7 of 13 comments
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Jan 20, 2011

    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.

  • Steven02 Steven02 on Jan 20, 2011

    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.

  • Bryce Chessum Bryce Chessum on Jan 20, 2011

    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.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Jan 20, 2011

    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.

    • See 2 previous
    • Kevin L. Copple Kevin L. Copple on Jan 26, 2011

      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.