Insights

Home is Where the Car Is: Top 10 States for Domestic and Foreign Car Brands

The auto industry is rife with competition on an international scale.

While American-born stalwarts of the car world—Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler among them—constantly innovate, foreign brands like Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW similarly vie for global relevance in markets across all continents. That’s not also counting rogue companies like Tesla trying to upend the industry with unprecedented technological innovations and price points.

But in terms of car ownership in the United States, how far does domestic brand loyalty go? In this context, “domestic” refers to car brands and makes that are headquartered in the United States, whereas foreign brands and makes have origins outside of the United States. It does not necessarily imply the site or country of car models’ actual manufacture.

The relative popularity of domestic or foreign cars in each state has no apparent bearing on regional identity, nor does it imply a value judgment on Insurify’s behalf. But it does offer valuable insight into which makes and models certain parts of the country might remain loyal.

Interested in investigating how domestic versus foreign car ownership breaks down on a state level, the data team at Insurify decided to analyze its vast database of insurance applications and rank the top states for both domestic and foreign automobile ownership. Here’s what they found:

Insights

  • Regional variations. The ten states with the highest percentages of domestic brands of car are situated in the Midwest and Mountain regions, while foreign car ownership dominates in coastal states. This regional divergence suggests that there might be major differences between automotive purchasing decisions on America’s coasts versus its so-called Heartland.
  • Statistical curiosities. The national breakdown as determined by the data is 55.55 percent for domestic makes and 44.45 percent for foreign makes. But for the 10 states with the highest rates of domestic car ownership, the proportion of domestic to foreign cars is much more impressive, with an average breakdown of 71.44 percent domestic to 28.56 percent foreign. Compare this figure with the average breakdown of 62.27 percent foreign to 37.73 domestic for the top 10 states for foreign car ownership.
  • Chevy reigns supreme. According to the data, more than half of the states in the union count Chevrolet as its most popular car brand. Only three other brands—Ford, Toyota, and Honda—can claim #1 status in any given state.

Methodology

The team of data specialists at Insurify, an insurance quote comparison website, compiled data from its database of over 1.5 million car insurance applications, which ask questions about driving history, vehicle type, and other personal data. The data team at Insurify ranked the top 10 states with the highest percentage of applicants who reported driving a domestic make of motor vehicle, and did the same for foreign makes. From this data, they were able to determine the most popular car brand for each state listed, as well as the likelihood of domestic or foreign vehicle ownership as an index against national averages (calculated by determining the average breakdown of domestic versus foreign vehicle ownership across all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia). The national breakdown as determined by the data is 55.55 percent for domestic makes and 44.45 percent for foreign makes.

States with the Highest Percentage of Domestic Cars

10. West Virginia

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 68.77 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.24 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

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9. Missouri

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 69.27 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.25 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

8. Nebraska

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 69.54 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.25 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

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7. Montana

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 69.62 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.25 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

6. Indiana

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 70.64 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.27 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

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5. Wyoming

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 70.69 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Ford
  • 1.27 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

4. South Dakota

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 70.70 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.27 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

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3. Iowa

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 72.06 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.30 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

2. North Dakota

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 72.81 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.31 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

1. Michigan

  • Percentage of domestic cars: 80.27 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Chevrolet
  • 1.45 times more likely for drivers to drive a domestic vehicle

States with the Highest Percentage of Foreign Cars

10. Florida

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 55.53 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Toyota
  • 1.25 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

9. New Hampshire

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 55.76 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Toyota
  • 1.25 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

8. Maryland

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 58.40 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Honda
  • 1.31 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

7. New York

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 61.27 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Honda
  • 1.38 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

6. Rhode Island

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 62.64 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Toyota
  • 1.41 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

5. New Jersey

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 63.14 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Honda
  • 1.42 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

4. California

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 64.22 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Toyota
  • 1.44 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

3. Connecticut

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 64.94 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Honda
  • 1.46 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

2. Hawaii

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 66.67 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Toyota
  • 1.50 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle

1. Massachusetts

  • Percentage of foreign cars: 70.10 percent
  • Most popular car brand: Toyota
  • 1.58 times more likely for drivers to drive a foreign vehicle
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Insurify's team of data scientists and content specialists present Insurify Insights, a series of automotive and demographic studies focusing on driver behavior, regional superlatives, and national rankings. Through expert analysis of over 1.5 million car insurance shopper applications, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles every week.