Anyone interested in a little anecdotal, totally unscientific auto industry research? Today when I was walking from my office at a Silicon Valley university to the train that would carry me very slowly back to San Francisco, I decided to count the number of American-made cars entering the campus through the main entrance. Those of you partial to "Made in America" t-shirts won't like the results. I thought it was going to be a shutout until an ancient, repainted Caprice Classic rolled into campus to make it 23-1.
That was worse than I thought, although most of the cars were probably owned by students in the night MBA program clearly partial to BMW's, so I decided to count cars in the Caltrain parking lot. Again, bad news for American automakers — 19-1 with a single Chevy truck. And yes, at this point I'm beginning to look very suspicious as I wander around the lot shaking my head and counting on my fingers.
When I get back to SF, I take a stroll down my block and it is another near shutout with a single new Ford Focus competing with 16 foreign cars. And the Focus is owned by neighbors whose other car is an Audi. There's even an old Alfa Romeo sedan on my street, proving that San Franciscans will buy an unreliable Italian car before they'll consider buying American.
I'm not questioning anyone's choices. After all, I drive a 1990 Camry that's been stolen and, unfortunately, returned three times. But the tabulations make me wonder what the count is in other parts of the country.
So if you feel like it, head out on the street and give me some numbers along with your location.