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Indiana Business Research Center

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Last modified: Thursday, October 5, 2006

Ford or Chevy: The battle rages in Indiana, according to Kelley School report

Oct. 5, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- At a time when Indiana employment at the Big Three domestic automakers is in decline and many in the state look ahead to new jobs at Honda and Toyota, new data suggest that Hoosiers continue to show a strong preference for American vehicles.

Also, according to a new report released by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, the age-old debate between Chevy and Ford owners rages on.

Writing in the new issue of inContext, a publication of the IBRC, the Kelley School and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, IBRC Director Jerry Conover reports that 80.6 percent of Indiana vehicles registered in 2004 were produced by U.S. automakers. This compares sharply with 2005 national vehicle registration data which found a 51-to-49 percent split between domestic cars and foreign makes.

Conover, who bases his research on data from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, found that Chevrolet was the most popular make in Indiana with 583,994 registrations in 2004 or 17.7 percent of all vehicles. Ford came in second with 14.5 percent and 477,547 vehicles.

Toyota was the most popular foreign make in the state with 160,162 or 4.9 percent of all vehicles registered, followed closely by Honda with 153,912 or 4.7 percent. Both lagged behind U.S. vehicles produced under the Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile and Dodge brands. General Motors held four of the top six spots.

There were 3,291,806 registered vehicles in Indiana in 2004, which equals nearly 1.2 vehicles per household and 1.9 Hoosiers per car or truck.

"The distribution of vehicles by make varies greatly from county to county in Indiana," Conover observed. Residents in Monroe, Hamilton and Floyd counties were the most likely to have a foreign-brand car or truck, while motorists in Miami and Pulaski counties were the most likely to drive a domestic vehicle.

"Although Chevrolet holds the top spot in 78 counties and Ford in the other 14 counties, other individual makes vie for the runner-up positions," Conover observed. "It's interesting to examine the relative-concentration indexes by county for various vehicle brands, looking for unusually high numbers that indicate a particular make of vehicle is much more likely to be found in that county than elsewhere."

For example, there is high concentration of Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths in Henry County.

"This may reflect that county's heritage as a producer of Chrysler products or supplier to that firm and perhaps the continued presence of retirees who qualify for employee discounts," he said. "It may also reveal a persistent brand loyalty years after local production of those vehicles ended."

Affluent Hamilton County has the highest concentration of pricey Acuras, BMWs, Jaguars, Mercedes and Porsches.

inContext is published online every month at, offering substantive articles on the Indiana economy in context within the state and the nation.

Established in 1925, the IBRC is an information outreach service of the Kelley School. It provides and interprets economic, demographic and social information needed by business, government, educational and other nonprofit organizations and individual data users in the state and throughout the nation. Its research can be found online at