The independent news organization of Duke University

Spotlight on the Blue Zone: What brands do students drive?

<p>The most common car brands that we found were&nbsp;Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Jeep.</p>

The most common car brands that we found were Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Jeep.

Whether you use it for late-night Cookout runs, trips to the Eno Quarry or hauling tenting supplies to K-Ville, having a car on campus makes life easier. But which cars are the most popular among students?

The Chronicle took a trip through the Blue Zone and found that the most common car brands were Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Jeep, in that order. Out of the 575 vehicles we counted, most had license plates from North Carolina, followed by Florida, Virginia, New York and Georgia. 

When compared to a national distribution of car market share per company, the University's breakdown was not significantly different. However, there were a few interesting variations. 15.8 percent of students in the Blue Zone had a Honda, compared to 7.9 percent of people nationally. 12 percent of people nationwide have cars made by Chevrolet but only five percent of cars in the Blue Zone are Chevrolets. Finally, eight percent of Blue Zone users had Fords as opposed to 14.4 percent of people nationwide.

Seniors Ting Chen and Graeme Peterson said that The Chronicle's findings mirrored how they viewed the types of cars students own. Both added that when they think of the typical Duke student’s vehicle, models like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry are what first come to mind.

“I think [the typical Duke student] drives something like a car from their parents,” Chen said.

Chen and other students said there is a general perception that Duke students drive more expensive vehicles, with Chen adding that she would expect to find relatively more luxury cars in the Duke population as compared to the distribution of cars throughout the United States. 

Despite this, Chen said that she did not believe the differences between Duke students and the nation as a whole would be that different.

“I just think we see more luxury cars on campus than on just any old street or highway, but I don’t think the average price of a car on campus is going to be that much higher than the national average,” she said.

Junior Amelia Cheatham said that although she knows there are a lot of Duke students who have Mercedes and BMWs parked in the Blue Zone, she also considers brands like Nissan and Honda as the norm for most Duke students.

On the other hand, first-year Alexis Onsi said that she thought the actual top five vehicles in our sample were a better representation of “everyday” vehicles than what she had previously considered.

“I guess it makes the most sense logically that [the top five vehicles] would be more of the average American cars,” Onsi said. “I had kind of assumed that students at Duke who are able to bring their cars to campus probably live more locally and would drive more upper-end vehicles."

Senior Courtney Trutna agreed with Onsi, explaining she believes that because Duke students frequently come from families with money, their families might be more likely to send their kid to college with a car.

Regardless of the model, most students said that having a car on campus is beneficial. 

The ability to easily travel off campus is a perk that students with cars enjoy, senior Natalie Knox said.

“I think in general the accessibility of having a car and being able to not have to rely on other people to get to where they want to go outweighs the cost of possible problems that could arise,” she said.

This is especially true for students who live on Central Campus or off campus and have to go grocery shopping, Peterson noted. 

Both Peterson and Cheatham also noted that upon coming to Duke, many students are exposed to Durham and grow an interest in exploring the city without having to rely on borrowing friends’ vehicles or public transit.

“I think it really does serve a good purpose, and it allows you to get out into Durham if that’s something you’re interested in,” Cheatham said. “I think if you already have a car, then it’s worth it, but I wouldn’t buy a car and bring it to Duke.”

For Trutna, the benefits of having a car on campus are so substantial that she drives hers more than 1,300 miles to campus every August.

“I definitely am glad that I have mine with me, and it is definitely a drive to get it here all the way from Texas,” she said.