General Motors Co.'s (GM) Buick Enclave topped the list of most-searched vehicles in the most states in a new state-by-state analysis of Google (GOOGL) search data by Gold Eagle Co., an automotive chemicals manufacturer. The Enclave was No. 1 in eight states in the Midwest.
"I think that was surprising that people had such an interest in Buick," Kyle Olson, a senior content manager at Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing who led the research, told TheStreet. "In terms of highly searched vehicles, American-made vehicles are favored in the Midwest."
Although General Motors recently announced it expects U.S. industry vehicle sales to fall short of projections, auto sales have risen nearly 5% since June 2013. Since 2016, the number of Google searches for motor vehicles rose 7%, according to the search engine. Automotive research company Carkeys.co.uk reported 97% of new car buyers researched their purchase online prior to visiting the dealership.
"The amount of research that goes into purchasing a vehicle is extensive," Olson said. "What people search and what people purchase...don't always correlate. The main intent would not be to purchase a vehicle but to learn some more information about it."
The analysis compared the most Googled vehicles in states and compared them to the national search volume to highlight the outlying popular vehicles in each state, Olson said.
When the report was posted on Reddit, Olson said the site's users commented that the results confirmed stereotypes of regional car ownership while others surprised them.
"When we posted this on Reddit, a lot of commenters said they were there to see California go for Tesla (TSLA) , and it did," Olson said. "It reaffirms that societal thing about California being very green-minded and focused on environmental issues and luxury."
He noted how some of the results had legitimate reasons such as the popularity of trucks in states with a large blue-collar workforce or the popularity of the Nissan Frontier in Tennessee, which has a Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (NSANY) plant.
Redditors said others, such as the popularity of Volvo in the East and the Volkswagen CC in Florida, surprised them.
Here is a look at four regions of the United States and the most searched for vehicles there.
The Buick Enclave topped searches in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The Midwest preferred larger vehicles, with another SUV, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, first in Illinois' searches. Wisconsin favored another Buick, the Encore, and the Lincoln MKC from Ford Motor Co. (F) intrigued residents of Michigan, home to the Detroit Three.
Northern New England favored larger vehicles, as well, especially the Volvo XC70, which was the top search in Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Overall, crossovers, hatchbacks and SUVs interested residents in this region, though states in the southern part of the Northeast were looking more at small and midsize automotive.
Trucks dominated in nine Southern states as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming. The most popularly searched of the trucks in the South was Chevrolet's Silverado, interesting people in Texas and both Carolinas. Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) also brought intrigue, especially its Tacoma.
Searches of hybrid and electric vehicles were first in only two states, both on the West Coast. In California, state law requires that nearly 15% of all cars in the state have zero emissions, and sales of the Chevrolet EV Bolt rose 91% in the first quarter of 2017 in the state. Its residents, however, favored its own Palo Alto-based Tesla Inc. (TSLA) and its Model 3, which started off the line on Saturday, on Google. The Nissan Leaf, however, dominated in the state of Washington.
Oregon, sandwich between the electric car-loving states, meanwhile, was looking at the Outback from Subaru Corp. NPV (FUJHF) .