Former President George H.W. Bush tacitly joined President Obama in support of the Chevrolet Volt last week when he bought one of the plug-in hybrid cars as a birthday present for his son Neil.
Don’t use the event to jump to any conclusions about non-partisanship in auto showrooms. A new study from Strategic Vision indicates that the kind of car someone drives can be a strong indicator of political party affiliation.
In a poll of more than 76,000 customers, the marketing consulting firm found that 69 percent of those who purchased a convertible worth less than $30,000 identified themselves as Republicans, outnumbering Democrats who accounted for just 18 percent of drop-top purchases. In contrast, Democrats made up 49 percent of small station wagon purchases compared to 24 percent for Republicans.
Medium and large truck buyers also skewed heavily toward the Party of Lincoln, with the split for large SUV purchases being 76 percent Republican to 5 percent Democrat, while Democrats preferred small cars and SUVs at rates of 35 percent to 26 percent and 34 percent to 32 percent, respectively.
As far as luxury cars are concerned, Republicans in the survey preferred sedans at a rate of 49 percent to 27 percent over Democrats, who chose luxury wagons and hatchbacks 37 percent of the time compared to 30 percent for Republicans.
The one segment where both parties are in agreement is mid-size cars, like the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion, with 34 percent of sales going to each.
As for favorite models, the five cars with the highest percentage of Republican owners are the Ford Mustang Convertible, Audi A8 luxury sedan, Mercedes GL full-size luxury SUV, Ford Expedition full-size SUV and Ford F-150 pickup, while Democrats make up the majority of owners of the Honda Civic Hybrid, Volvo C30 compact, Nissan Leaf electric car, Acura TSX Wagon and Ford Fiesta subcompact sedan.
Is there a roadmap to the end of gridlock in these statistics? Perhaps not, but Strategic Vision suggests that automakers have a lot of opportunity to reach across party lines when looking for new customers.