The Geography Of America's Car Obsession

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
the geography of america s car obsession

Like any other diverse, multiethnic state, the US of A doesn’t so much have a distinct national culture as a no-holds-barred cultural cagematch of competing values, lifestyles, and perspectives. We call it “pluralism,” although more politically-minded commentators might call it “the war for America’s soul.” Anyway, with America’s cultural divide still creating yawning chasms between the experiences of citizens in “red” states and “blue” states, it’s not enough to simply look at sales statistics for the whole country. No, to truly understand the different cultures forming America’s automotive melting pot, we must look at car sales region-by-region in hopes of identifying the constituent parts of our larger car culture. And that’s exactly what TrueCar has done, breaking out both sales and discounts for the top-performing vehicles in one West coast state (California), one East coast state (New York), one Midwestern state (Illinois), and one Southwestern state (Texas). The result: a snapshot of our diverse market for cars, and a peek at our conflicting car cultures. [Data after the jump]

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  • Stevelovescars Stevelovescars on Feb 04, 2011

    I'm not so sure about the traffic in the blue states being worse than red... isn't Houston one of the most congested cities in the country? My experience there was one of intense frustration on the freeway. I lived in Austin for a few months on a work project and thought traffic there made L.A. look like kid's play. Population growth had far exceeded the capacity of the road system I was in San Antonio having dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Every other car driving by seemed to be a Ferrari or Porsche 911 Turbo. My Northern California workmate and I mentioned this to our host. He (who was a recent transplant to the area) wrote it off as all of the expendable income. Compared to California, there was no state income tax (figure a 10% pay increase right there), homes that cost less than 1/3rd as much (for twice the size), and a generally lower cost of living. I suppose if one extrapolates, what's a bit more in gasoline expenses? All else equal, it's a much smaller part of one's leftover income in TX as it is out here in CA even after having to pay for private schools for your kids.

  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Feb 04, 2011

    The Red/Blue diatribe is rather minimal compared to the diatribes within the US in years past. We had a North/South diatribe that ended up killing 600,000. We had an East/West diatribe between the Northwestern States, (now Midwestern), and the East Coast. We had a state of rebellion between New England and the rest of the US. We had a nullification crisis between South Carolina and the rest of the US. And probably a few other similar situations that don't come to the top of my mind right now. So this Red/Blue thingy is rather embarrassing. It won't ever work out completely, but within our priorities, it will most likely fall to such a low level we will all just move on. Having owned a few pick up trucks and loving them, and owning small fuel efficient cars and loving them, there really is no right or wrong and the best we can really do is respect one another's market freedoms to choose what is best for each of us.

    • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Feb 04, 2011

      Amen. The most useful "fact" made is that even though one may look "rich" the cost of living in some places makes low six figure incomes simply a good salary. $600,000 for a three bedroom starter house...

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.