Study: Older People More Likely to Shop for New Cars

By Kelsey Mays  on June 3, 2013

Even as baby boomers age, they continue to buy cars. That generation is now 49 to 67, but a new study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute finds a large chunk of them are still active car shoppers.

In 2011, one in every 14.6 drivers age 55 to 64 bought a new car, the UMTRI study found. That's the highest density for any age group, and well above the 19.7 new-car sales for all drivers in 2011. By contrast, the often-targeted 35-to-44 age group, which led all new-car shoppers in 2007, fell in 2011 to 15.9 drivers per new-car sale.

Still, the group in between — those age 45 to 54 — made up the largest overall chunk of sales, buying 26% of all new cars in 2011. By comparison, shoppers age 55 to 64 bought 23% of all new cars. However you slice it, older drivers still take a big piece of the pie. A study in 2012 by J.D. Power and Associates and AARP found buyers ages 50 and older accounted for nearly two-thirds of all car shoppers.

What about their young counterparts? Just one in 221.8 whippersnappers drivers age 18 to 24 bought a new car in 2011 — a conflation of still-high unemployment rates among young people and Gen Y's waning enthusiasm for cars.

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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey