Young Car Buyers Shift Preferences from Japanese to U.S. and Korean Brands, Reports Edmunds.com


SANTA MONICA, Calif. — March 20, 2013 — American auto brands are gaining strength with younger buyers in the U.S., while their Japanese rivals have taken a big step back, reports Edmunds.com, the premier resource for car shopping and automotive information. According to an analysis of new car retail registrations from R. L. Polk & Co., American brands accounted for 36.8 percent of cars bought by Americans age 25 to 34 in 2012, up from a share of 35.4 percent in 2008. Meanwhile the share of Japanese brands for the same age group plummeted from 50.6 percent to 42.9 percent during that period.

But even with the incremental success of American brands, Edmunds.com found that the exodus from Japanese cars by young buyers is turning mostly toward South Korean brands. About 10 percent of new cars purchased by 25-to-34 year olds in 2012 carried South Korean nameplates, more than doubling the rate for this age group since 2008.

"U.S. automakers have burst onto the scene in recent years with small, fuel-efficient and affordable cars that really appeal to a young set of buyers," says Edmunds.com Sr. Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "But while Detroit might be chiseling away at the Japanese grip on Gen X and Gen Y, South Korean brands are taking big hacks. Not only are the Koreans making better cars for young people, but they've also worked to make credit available to young buyers who still don't have solid credit history."

Retail Registrations by Age, 2012 vs. 2008
  European
Brands
Japanese
Brands
South Korean
Brands
U.S.
Brands
Age
(YEARS OLD)
2012 2008 CHG 2012 2008 CHG 2012 2008 CHG 2012 2008 CHG
18-24 7.1% 6.0% 1.1% 42.6% 52.3% -9.8% 12.6% 5.8% 6.8% 37.6% 35.7% 1.9%
25-34 9.8% 8.8% 1.0% 42.9% 50.6% -7.7% 10.1% 4.9% 5.1% 36.8% 35.4% 1.5%
35-44 10.9% 9.3% 1.5% 42.1% 47.5% -5.4% 9.3% 4.7% 4.5% 37.2% 38.0% -0.8%
45-54 10.4% 8.9% 1.5% 40.1% 45.7% -5.6% 10.1% 5.2% 4.9% 38.9% 39.8% -0.9%
55-64 9.5% 8.1% 1.3% 41.3% 44.5% -3.2% 9.9% 5.5% 4.4% 39.0% 41.6% -2.6%
65-74 8.3% 6.6% 1.6% 40.2% 41.7% -1.4% 9.8% 5.8% 4.0% 41.4% 45.6% -4.2%
75+ 6.5% 4.8% 1.8% 39.0% 38.2% 0.8% 9.7% 6.1% 3.7% 44.5% 50.7% -6.2%
OVERALL 9.9% 8.5% 1.4% 40.4% 44.6% -4.2% 9.5% 5.0% 4.5% 39.7% 41.6% -1.8%
Source: R.L. Polk & Co.

The South Koreans' progress with young buyers reflects their overall growth in the U.S. market. Korean brands represented 9.5 percent of all new retail registrations in the U.S. in 2012, almost twice as much as their share of 5.0 percent in 2008.

European car labels are flexing their own muscles in the U.S. market as well, accounting for 9.9 percent of new car registrations in the U.S. last year, up from 8.5 percent in 2008. Like the South Koreans, European carmakers have delivered consistent growth among all age groups since 2008, with the biggest successes among older car buyers, thanks to Baby Boomers choosing European luxury cars post-retirement.

Edmunds.com offers a wealth of insights into car shopping behavior and habits through its Industry Center at http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/.

About Edmunds.com, Inc.
Edmunds.com is a car-shopping Web site committed to helping people find the car that meets their every need. Almost 18 million visitors use our research, shopping and buying tools every month to make an easy and informed decision on their next new or used car. Whether you're at the dealership or on the go, we're always by your side with our five-star Edmunds.com iPhone and iPad apps and our Edmunds.com Android App. Our comprehensive car reviews, shopping tips, photos, videos and feature stories offer a friendly and authentic approach to the automotive world. We're based in Santa Monica, Calif., but you can connect with us from anywhere by following @Edmunds on Twitter or by becoming a fan of Edmunds.com on Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Edmunds Universe

Follow Us:


Edmunds Price Promise® TV Spot


Company Profile and HistoryCompany Profile and History


@Edmunds@Edmunds

Corporate Communications

Jeannine Fallon/Stephanie Mar/Aaron Lewis
www.edmunds.com

Media Hotline (media inquiries only)
310-309-4900

Email
pr (at) edmunds dot com