Younger Buyers Shun Japanese Brands in Favor of Korean, Detroit-Made Cars


  • 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Picture

    2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe Picture

    Younger buyers are choosing Detroit and South Korean brands over their Japanese rivals. | March 21, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Younger car buyers are gravitating toward South Korean and Detroit-made cars and moving away from Japanese brands, according to a new Edmunds analysis of R.L. Polk & Co. data.
  • "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," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst. "But while Detroit may be chiseling away at the Japanese grip on Gen X and Gen Y, South Korean brands are taking big hacks."
  • Korean brands represent 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.

SANTA MONICA, California — Younger car buyers are gravitating toward South Korean and Detroit-made cars and moving away from Japanese brands, according to a new Edmunds analysis of R.L. Polk & Co. data.

"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," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst. "But while Detroit may be chiseling away at the Japanese grip on Gen X and Gen Y, South Korean brands are taking big hacks."

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.

The exodus from Japanese cars by younger 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.

Korean brands represent 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.

Hyundai and Kia have courted younger buyers, making credit available to those who may have limited credit and work histories. In addition, Detroit and South Korean automakers are introducing appealing small cars, including the 2013 Hyundai Elantra coupe, Chevrolet Sonic and Spark and Ford Fiesta.

Edmunds says: Product may have a lot to do with the exodus away from Japanese brands.

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