A recent Shell "Autotude" survey reveals some interesting things about
what American drivers think of their autos. Besides proving that many
Americans view their cars as more than just a piece of machinery, the
survey showed there are regional differences in drivers' "autotudes."
While much of the country views their cars and trucks as simply a way
to get from point A to point B, drivers in the Farm Belt states (from
North Dakota down to Kansas and Missouri), the Outer South (from Texas
to Virginia), and New England say they actually enjoy and look forward
to driving. (They didn't ask me, and I agree, though I'm not in any of those regions.)
Here's what respondents divulged (and my own opinions in italics, as well):
Vehicles have personalities, too.
The survey said respondents described their autos with language once reserved for children and pets. Two out of three American drivers believe their cars have a personality and most respondents agreed that they had a "strong emotional bond" with their vehicles (56 percent). Additionally, more women (66 percent) than men (56 percent) feel their personality is similar to their vehicles'. And 21 percent even admitted to patting their dashboards like a pet. (Yes, I DO talk to my car, pet its dash, and imagine that it drives better because it is happy when it is clean and full.)
Flush with pride or embarrassment?
Most Americans (64 percent) say they would be proud of their autos if they had to give their bosses a ride and only 15 percent say they'd be embarrassed. Southerners are the proudest with more than 70 percent saying they're happy to show them off. (Yes, I have specifically washed and waxed my car in anticipation of driving my boss in it. And never have I been so embarrassed by it as I was when the valet brought me my very old, very beat up, and very dirty car, while I waited in the company of General Motor's new President and COO, Fritz Henderson, and Dave Barthmuss, Group Manager of GM's Western Region.)
Nearly half of drivers think their vehicle has a gender, with 60 percent of vehicles viewed as female and 40 percent viewed as male. Of those with a gender, vehicles in Southern states are more likely to be female, while autos in the Midwest are more likely to be male. (Not me. My car is an "IT")
The name game.
While most respondents say their cars have personalities (67 percent), surprisingly few Americans drivers have a name for their vehicle (15 percent). However, one in five people who live on the West Coast say their cars and trucks do have a name and 28 percent of those who name their vehicle say they chose a name based on someone they know. (My car might be neutered, but it does have a name. I call it the Accordian. It's a Honda Accord, get it? )
Can your pick-up pick up a date?
Those lucky in love may have their auto to thank since 60 percent of Americans believe cars can be "chick or dude magnets." Sports cars are the most attractive overall (46% percent), while SUVs turn heads in the Deep South (22 percent) and Mountain (25 percent) states and pick-ups have fans in the Great Lakes and Pacific states (15 percent each). (The paint is rubbing off my car because it's been through automated washers about five thousand times. Plus it has a multitude of deep and rusted 'love taps' all over its dingy frame. And let's not overlook the car seat on the crusty back seat. My car is not picking up any dates, unless they are playdates for my five-year-old.)
Maintenance likes and dislikes.
Most Americans feel relatively comfortable performing maintenance tasks on their vehicles. However, there are still certain tasks that drivers dread, like changing a flat tire (28 percent) and changing their oil (19 percent). Pumping one's own gasoline is the task American drivers feel most comfortable performing (88 percent). (Yes, I do pump my own gas, who can afford not to, these days? For the other stuff, I have Auto Club.)
"At Shell, we're experts on fuel, but we wanted to know more about drivers' 'autotudes' - or the bond they have with their vehicles," said Todd Jackson, advertising manager, US Retail. "The results showed us drivers have a surprisingly strong emotional tie with their automobiles, and that's why we are pleased to provide them with a gasoline that can help eliminate gunky buildup on critical engine parts and educate consumers that not all gasolines are the same.
For more information about Shell Oil and how it can help you fight engine 'gunk' please visit www.passionate-experts.shell.com.
By Brandy Schaffels
Creative commons 'pumping gas' photo courtesy of futureatlas.com/blog/