I freely admit that I have an affliction called "the need for speed." Since I first got my license nearly two decades ago I've often treated speed limit signs as suggestions rather than laws. Occasionally, that way of thinking has gotten me into trouble in the form of a speeding violation. In fact, if there are any current law enforcement officers reading this, I am not the speeder you're looking for!
OK, so I'm no Jedi master, but my radar detector and laser jammer have certainly helped me avoid getting a ticket since I've purchased my most recent vehicle. But, I'm also not alone. There are literally thousands of Americans across the U.S. getting moving violation citations each day, with speeding being among the most prominent of those violations.
While speeding is certainly something I certainly wouldn't encourage others to do, I view the act of speeding as a sign that a consumer truly enjoys their vehicle. Sure, some of us are late to work or to pick up the kids from school, but I'd postulate that a vast majority of speeders put the pedal to the metal because they enjoy their vehicle. This actually sets up an interesting scenario, because it could potentially mean that vehicles which are targeted most for being ticketed may also have some of the happiest or most loyal drivers of those brands.
10 vehicles that are most likely to be ticketed
With that being said, today I want to look at the 10 vehicles which are most likely to get you a ticket based on a study from Quality Planning, a research firm which used data from insurance companies between Feb. 2009 and Feb. 2010 in its analysis. After reviewing these vehicles, we'll note if there are any similarities which we may be able to use to our investing advantage.
Without further ado, here are Quality Planning's 10 most ticketed cars based on a comparison with the national average – and please note, vehicles discontinued for 10 years or longer have not been included in its analysis:
10. Volkswagen GTI, 1.78 times more likely to get a ticket
9. Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG, 1.79 times more likely to get a ticket
8. Pontiac Grand Prix, 1.82 times more likely to get a ticket
7. Acura Integra, 1.85 times more likely to get a ticket
6. Mercedes-Benz CLS-63 AMG, 2.64 times more likely to get a ticket
5. Scion xB, 2.7 times more likely to get a ticket
4. Hummer H2, 2.92 times more likely to get a ticket
3. Scion tC, 3.43 times more likely to get a ticket
2. Toyota Camry, 3.49 times more likely to get a ticket
1. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, 4.04 times more likely to get a ticket
Breaking down the data
There are some clear standouts based on this data. Perhaps nothing is more blaring than the fact that speeders prefer foreign cars. Toyota (NYSE:TM) was an odd surprise with its Camry rolling in decisively at No. 2, as well as its Scion brand occupying the No. 3 and No. 5 spots. Daimler (NASDAQOTH:DDAIF) was another standout on this list, with the SL-Class, CLS-63, and CLK-63 taking the No. 1, No. 6, and No. 9 spots on this most-ticketed list. Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC) also gets a token mention on the list with the Acura Integra at No. 7.
Why does this matter? In general consumers have a perception that foreign cars are more dependable than American-made cars from General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford. In the latest rankings from J.D. Power for 2014, which studied the number of problems reported by consumers per 100 vehicles in three-year-old vehicles, Mercedes-Benz ranked second, Acura fourth, Honda sixth, and Toyota eighth most dependable. With the exception of Scion and Volkswagen, which are in the lower-half of the list, this perception that foreign cars are more dependable appears quite accurate. Cars which are more dependable would be expected by consumers to be able to be pushed harder for a longer period of time without maintenance issues.
Another interesting factoid to note about Quality Planning's research is that the average age of speeders, with the exception of the two Scion's and the Integra, was between 40 and 53. This defies the popular belief that younger drivers are the ones which are most prone to speed and get a ticket. It also means that middle-aged consumers may be the most in love with their cars and should be one of the most heavily targeted audiences of carmakers.
Even though General Motors' Cadillac isn't among the most ticketed vehicles, GM's efforts to push its new line of Cadillac's on a slightly younger audience, primarily the middle-aged to upper-middle-aged American consumer, could be right in the wheelhouse for obtaining high brand loyalty among consumers. Combine Cadillac's fresher look for many of its vehicles with its extremely high dependability ratings in the annual J.D. Power survey and it could mean the brand is headed in the right direction.
Obviously getting a ticket isn't a good thing, but as I've shown here today, the breakdown of who is getting tickets could tell us a quite a bit more than expected about what cars consumers love to drive and where their brand loyalties lie.
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Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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