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People and Their Cars [Motion Graphic]

People and Their Cars: America's Love Affair with the Automobile

Ever since owning a car became mainstream after World War II, we’ve been spending a lot of money to buy them, use them, and maintain them. In 2009, Americans spent $164 billion on car parts and service alone – that’s 14.5% of our total spending!

Owning a vehicle is one of the biggest investments an adult can make, so it’s no surprise that so many of us grow attached to our vehicles. They’re more than just a way to get to one spot to another – they’re an extension of home, a member of the family, and maybe even a romantic interest.

Of the 600 hours we spend in our cars each year, 38 are spent stuck in traffic, and 4 are spent just pumping the gas to keep them running. We spend 5 years of our entire life behind the wheel, and 6 months idling at stop lights. And when you consider that we spend $1560 per year fueling our vehicles, that’s quite a commitment!

In return, our cars give us the mobility to get where we need to go, whether it’s your morning commute, a staycation, or that epic road trip you’ve been dreaming of taking. The average American drives 798,000 miles in their lifetime, which is far enough to circle the earth 32 times or drive to the moon 3 times.

What better way to show our appreciation for what our cars make possible by assigning them names and personalities? A quarter of us name our cars, often using the color and appearance of the vehicle as inspiration. Two out of five Americans give their car a unique personality.

What names win out among these car fans? Betty, Jessica, and Pippa are the most popular women’s names. Daniel, Tom, and Jack are the most common male names. Is that red sports car whizzing by on the interstate a Jack or a Jessica? Well, it might depend on who’s driving. Women are more likely to give their cars names, and since they’re also more likely to view them as female, there are twice as many “female” cars on the road as “male.”

Whether you’re in love with your car or just singing along with its radio (like 90% of us do), our vehicles have obviously carved a place in our hearts and wallets. See how you compare to other car aficionados in the video below.

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