Whenever I'm in California, I marvel at how different the mix of cars and trucks is there.
If you spend any time in Michigan north of Flint, you find that people have yet to discover the import automobile. In Southern California, I always have the feeling that a Chevy is an import and a Toyota is a domestic. And since most Toyotas are made in the United States, you can argue that they are just as domestic as any other vehicle.
I don't expect to get into the debate about what's an import and what's a domestic. With the sale of Chrysler to Daimler-Benz four years ago, it's a moot point anyway. We're still trying to figure out the Big 3 and whether there should be a Big 4. It's no longer about ownership and what's a U.S. vehicle and what's not.
The more fascinating part of the equation is that American tastes in automobiles vary so much from one part of the nation to another. You may discover the sales average for a certain make, but it's almost impossible to discover the place where all the averages exist.
The tastes of this large country are so wide that you will have a very hard time identifying the average car or truck in the average community.
If you want to confuse the analysts a bit more, you can throw in the fact that in quite a few places, tastes in vehicles change with the seasons.
Maybe that's another reason why the franchise system works so well in the United States.
Chevrolet sells 2.6 million vehicles in the United States every year, and Chevy has to figure out what's going on in this market.
But Chevy dealers are local retailers, and they know their marketplaces far better than any analyst a thousand miles away. They'll order the cars that they know will move off their lots, and they know when the seasons will change the tastes of their customers. Chevrolet has the benefit of their local knowledge to make sure that Chevy customers have the right choices at the right places.
It's the auto industry's eyes and ears and the dealer's money and inventory. The combination keeps the level of the river at 2 feet everywhere.