Friday, November 26, 2010

Decepticons: Vehicular longevity

Seen at a Subaru dealer:

95% of Subaru vehicles built in the last 10 years are still on the road.

Consider these similar-sounding statements:

  • 95% of 10-year-old Subaru vehicles are still on the road
  • If you buy a new Subaru, there’s a 95% chance it will still be on the road in 10 years

The marketers would love for you to misinterpret their statement as one of my two statements.

The “fleet” under consideration in Subaru’s claim is all the cars built in the last 10 years. Some are 1 year old, some are 7 years old, and some are 10 years old. The median age is somewhere around 5 years. Probably less, if Subaru’s sales are improving.

The percentage of 10-year-old cars that are still on the road is, therefore, less than 95%. Probably much less. If they wanted to make a clear statement about 10-year longevity, they could tell us what that number is. But it wouldn’t look as impressive.

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