U.S. New Car Buyers Aging Except For Buick

A three year average rise in new car buyers since 2007.

The average age of car buyers rose by three years from 48 in 2007 to 51 in 2011. Car manufacturers may sometime make a big deal about the age of its new car buyers as a younger average points to a more youthful following. Well, as anyone can tell you, a lot of young people simply cannot afford to buy a new car. Many are unemployed, others are in school, while still others are attempting to raise families and aren’t about to shell out nearly $30,000 for a set of wheels.

Polk Study Revelation

R.L. Polk & Co. has been tracking the average age of car buyers for many years and has taken note of the across the board increase for all brands except one: Buick. While the average age of a Lincoln buyer has risen by five years and a Suzuki buyer by six years, Buick is the only brand to see a reduction. In this case the average of a Buick buyer has fallen from 62 to 59. Buick still has the oldest demographics of any car brand except for Lincoln (60), but it also demonstrates how hard GM has worked to transform its premium brand to appeal to younger buyers.

Buick RegalInteresting, Polk divides the brands into luxury and non-luxury makes, placing Buick in the latter. GM advertising calls Buick a “luxury” brand, but that isn’t quite accurate. Buick sells premium cars with some models competing with lower end Lexus, Audi and Acura models while Cadillac competes head-to-head against luxury brands.

Advancing Youth Appeal

In any case, Buick at 59 and Lincoln at 60 compare to Land Rover at 47 and Mazda at 48. That the pricey Land Rover brand is affordable to young drivers may seem to be a mystery. Still, when most people are in their 40s, they’re fast approaching their highest wage levels, usually reached while in their 50s. Youthful, zoom-zoom Mazda should be no surprise, a brand that is tied with Volkswagen and Mitsubishi in reaching the youngest new car buyers.

Will the average age of new car drivers fall beginning this year? That seems plausible as the market continues to rebound and new car sales may top 14 million units in 2012 for the best year since 2008. However, it still takes people working and consumers feeling confident that the new car purchase they make today is something they can pay tomorrow and for years to come. Young people may want new cars, but following a bad case of sticker shock they may stick with their current cars or head over to their used car dealer for a lower-cost deal.

Lucerne, Verano Buyers

As far as trend-breaking Buick goes, the brand can point to several new models attracting younger buyers. The Regal has done the best job of lowering the numbers for Buick, though the smaller Verano seems to attract an older (59) buyer than the brand’s managers expect or want. At least that age is much lower than the now retired Lucerne, whose average buyer was 70 years old.

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