Study of parking lots show many luxury cars in surprising locations

In Dec. 2013, professor emeritus of business Paul Scipione and his market research class conducted a study titled, “Who Drives More Luxury Vehicles on the SUNY Geneseo Campus: Faculty, Staff, or Students?” They cataloged the cars found in all student lots, the faculty and administration parking area (Lot B) and maintenance staff parking area (Lot K) between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on random weekdays and Saturday mornings throughout the month of November. The total number of cars counted on campus was 1,816.

The results found that student lots contained many more luxury vehicles than the faculty lots and vastly outnumbered the count of luxury cars in maintenance lots. Because there are many more students, and therefore student cars, on campus than faculty and maintenance staff, Scipione and his students compared the probability figures with base values of 100.

As such, he and his students observed that, for every 100 cars, there are on average 2.022 luxury cars in student lots. This is compared to the faculty and maintenance lots, which have an average of 0.9155 luxury cars per 100 and 0.77 luxury cars per 100, respectively.

BMWs represented the largest percentage of luxury cars for all the groups, with 15.6 percent for faculty (tied with Volvo and Acura), 36.4 percent for maintenance staff and 18.7 percent for students.

Per 100 vehicles, BMW also represented the largest probability gap between students and faculty. The probability for student lots was 4.534 BMWs per 100 vehicles and 1.715 BMWs per 100 vehicles for the faculty lot.

Luxury brands no longer sold in the United States market and exotic cars such as Lamborghinis and Maseratis were excluded from the study.

With Geneseo ranked in the top 150 Best Value colleges for the 2014 edition of the The Princeton Review, Scipione made the observation in his statistical report, “We know of several vanity license plates that hint that many upscale parents of Geneseo students may be ‘rewarding’ their son or daughters for deciding to attend [Geneseo] rather than pricier private colleges … and still saving tens of thousands of dollars in the balance.”

Though there is a presence of luxury cars in student, faculty and staff lots, the vast majority of cars are Hondas, Fords, Toyotas, Chevrolets, Jeeps, Subarus and Nissans.

Scipione and his students noted the dominance of foreign makes on campus. In his study, Scipione wrote, “While foreign brands such as Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, Hyundai and Kia all sell models at the $35,000 price point or more, the vast majority of their vehicles sell for less than $30,000, including even a few vehicles for less than $20,000.”

The study also reports that the current average price for new vehicles in the U.S. market is $30,000.

Scipione and his market research students have shown that the $5,870 in-state tuition for Geneseo not only attracts low to middle-income families but also those families who can afford to buy their children luxury cars.