You can donate a car, truck, van, SUV or even a boat or a trailer to the Car Talk Vehicle Donation program, but most people are donating vehicles from these manufacturers.
We took a look at some of the cars donated within these manufacturers to learn any trends about the vehicles people donate, and who donates to public radio.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Honda represented the largest number of vehicles donated to public radio stations. Over the last 20 years, Honda has sold around 100,000 vehicles per month, making them one of the most plentiful used cars on the road today. Their parts are in high demand, and the Accord, Civic and CR-V models donated with high mileage are still prized as reliable daily drivers. In 2019, public radio supporters donated 619 Honda vehicles to the Car Talk Vehicle Donation program.
Toyota shouldn’t really come as a surprise, either, considering how many Toyota vehicles are on the road today. Only during the economic slump beginning in 2008 did Toyota have trouble selling more than 100,000 cars per month. In May of 2007, Toyota managed to sell over 225,000 cars, a high water mark that’s been elusive ever since. Models like the Camry, Corolla and RAV-4 make up the bulk of the 558 cars that Toyota owners donated to public radio stations in 2019 through the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program.
In 2019, 471 Fords were donated to support public radio stations through the Car Talk Vehicle donation program. Cars like the Fusion, Focus and Escape were top sellers through the years, and trucks like the Ranger and F-150 also help to make Ford one of the top vehicle nameplates sold in the US. Combined, Ford and Ford Truck sales typically top 225,000 vehicles sold every month.
“Chevrolet” isn’t the first brand you’d think of when you think “public radio supporter,” but a lot of Chevy products have been donated every year. In 2019, 270 Chevrolets came into the Car Talk Vehicle Donation program. When you look at sales volume every year, that’s not all that surprising. Even though Chevrolet doesn’t sell as many vehicles as it used to, it’s not unusual for the brand to move 175,000 cars a month even today. Of course the bulk of the cars donated to support public radio are 20 years old or older, and at that time, Chevrolet was cranking out 225,000 vehicles a month with regularity.
This one is both surprising and not surprising at all. It’s surprising to see Subaru in the top 5, considering 20 years ago, Subaru only sold a tenth the volume of a titan like Chevrolet or Toyota. Yet, Subaru owners are public radio supporters, in a huge way. In 2019, 254 Subaru vehicles like the Legacy and the Impreza came through the doors at the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program. That’s just a bit behind Chevrolet at 270, with a sliver of the volume that Chevrolet produced in those peak years. Amazing work, Subaru owners!
It’s a similar story with Volkswagen. There have only been a few months in the last 20 years when Volkswagen managed to sell more than 40,000 cars per month. Most of the time, that number was significantly lower, in the 25,000 unit range. Yet, Volkswagen owners are in sixth place, donating 216 VW Jettas, Beetles and Golfs to support public radio in 2019.
In seventh place, we get back to the volume manufacturers. Nissan routinely sells anywhere from 115,000 to 125,000 cars a month these days, and even in the early 2000s, it was good for 80,000 units a month. Nissan owners donated 165 Altimas, Versas and Sentras in 2019, all to support their favorite public radio stations.
Here’s another surprise/no surprise story. That Volvo ended up in the top 10 is surprising because Volvo’s overall sales volume in the US is tiny. In fact, there’s only one month -- December of 2019 -- in the last 20 years where Volvo was able to sell more than 10,000 cars per month, and we don’t anticipate that a lot of cars sold in December of 2019 are going to make it through the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program just yet. Nevertheless, Volvo owners support public radio, and they’re exceedingly generous. 163 Volvo vehicles were donated in 2019.
Here’s a surprise in the other direction. Especially in the early 2000s, Dodge was selling 50,000 vehicles per month with ease, five times that of tiny Volvo. Yet, Dodge barely breaks the top 10 in terms of vehicles donated. In 2019, just 158 Dodges were donated. We’re willing to bet they were all Neons.
Another tiny manufacturer whose owners are relentless supporters of public radio. Mazda typically sells 25,000 some-odd cars every month, but over the years, Mazda owners have been generous with donating their vehicles through the Car Talk Vehicle Donation program. In 2019, 144 Mazda vehicles -- including the Protege, Mazda6 and B-Series pickups -- were donated.