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The average age of a new car buyer in Germany rose to a record 52.2 years in 2013, three years older than the average a decade ago, reflecting a trend observed in other industrialised countries.
Only 27% of all new car buyers last year were under the age of 45, according to an analysis of new German registrations conducted by the Centre for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
A big debate exists in the car industry as to whether urban-dwelling young people no longer prioritise owning a car and are choosing to spend their disposable income on other items, such as consumer electronics.
As in many western economies, Germans are living longer and having fewer children, so the ‘greying’ of new car buyers is somewhat inevitable.
Nevertheless, carmakers that fail to attract young customers risk losing that customer for life. Mercedes-Benz is among carmakers trying to reverse the trend by producing sporty compact models that are packed full of electronics.
German carmakers are also expanding mobility services such as car-sharing, in order to give young consumers an early taste of the brand.
Although youth unemployment is low in Germany, elsewhere in Europe this factor is also forcing young people to delay buying a car or to purchase a second-hand vehicle instead. In the UK, the number of young people taking driving tests fell almost a fifth between 2007 and 2012.
‘Young car buyers are dying out. Only large-scale immigration can maintain the German car market at its current level over the next 10 years,’ Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, director of the Centre for Automotive Research, said.