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The SUV Count: The Results Are In
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by Worldchanging New York blogger Mark Caserta

Well, WNYC's experiment in Crowdsourcing, in which New Yorkers hit the streets and counted the SUV's on their block, is over and the results have been posted online. On average, it seems that participants found that 30.6% of all of the cars counted were SUV's. Strangely enough, only 25% of all vehicles sold in the country are SUV's. That's right, it appears that New York City residents own more SUV's, on average. Interesting, huh? Scary, too!

Of course, the results were not scientific. Let's face it, most of the participants were WNYC listeners, which is kind of easy to tell from the map (okay, that's unfair but, seriously, look at the pattern). Plus, it is likely that many of the participants were anti-SUV, which could have skewed the results.

Take a look at the SUV map here. You can listen to the results being discussed on the Brian Lehrer Show here.

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It's hard to tell what any of this means. Nomenclature is the problem. Did Mr. Lehrer tell his listeners the precise definition of "SUV"? Do they know that that includes things like the Chevy HHR, the PT Cruiser, the Subaru Outback, and the Dodge Magnum? Do they know it doesn't include pickup trucks?

Also, do you know that the term "cars" generally excludes light trucks (SUVs/Trucks/Vans/Minivans), so that to consider SUVs a type of "car" isn't really accurate?

It's interesting that he would get people to go do local counts, but without any clear sense of what they're counting, the data essentially has no meaning.

I'm willing to bet that most people went out and counted the standard SUV type designs -- the Trailblazers, the Explorers, etc -- and also counted what looked to be pickup trucks. They may also have counted "crossover" vehicles like the Mazda CX-7 or the Ford Edge, but I'm fairly sure no PT Cruisers made the count. So, they probably nailed most of what would be considered "light trucks," and the market share of light trucks in the US is 55%. So the count in NY would be lower than the US average, from that angle.

Posted by: tb on 13 Aug 07

Counting SUVs is a silly thing to do, especially on a site like WorldChanging. Minivans scarcely get better gas mileage than many SUVs. In fact, many smaller SUVs are actually better than minivans (look at 2007 Toyota Highlander vs Sienna vs RAV4). Even many station wagons aren't much better. Counting SUVs ignores the real problem. World changing is not 25 mpg. World changing is 100 mpg.

Besides, have you driven in NYC? You need an SUV to make it over many of those potholes!

Posted by: Greg on 17 Aug 07



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