Senior Citizens Hold More Sway In The US Auto Market Than Ever Before

Senior citizens in the United States are living longer and acquiring more wealth, making that demographic a potentially lucrative one for automakers.

So argues The Globe And Mail, in an article which cites US Census data to demonstrate that between 2003 and 2013, the number of licensed senior citizen drivers increased by a massive 8.2 million – or 29 percent. Of those, around 3.5 million are well beyond the typical senior citizen cutoff age of 65, aged 84 and older. That represents a 43 percent increase over the same period.

Meanwhile, this same senior citizen demographic doesn’t tend to opt for older used cars; The Globe And Mail reports that IHS (Or maybe IIHS? -Ed.) data shows an increase in new car registration of 62 percent over the past five years for senior citizen-headed households. Part of that may well be the recent proliferation of active safety features, which can allow aging Americans to stay safe behind the wheel well into their twilight years. These include things like blind-spot monitors, lane-keep assists, automatic braking, and backup cameras.

Still, despite the sway that senior citizens seem to hold in the US auto market, no particular automaker seems especially keen to try and court that demographic. Says TrueCar Executive VP Larry Dominique: “I honestly don’t see any brands catering to the older generations. Most brands are still just fighting heavily for the younger demographic.”

The Globe And Mail suspects this may have something to do with the “lifetime value” of the senior citizen demographic. It’s a group which has the “value,” but not so much the “lifetime.” In other words, concentrating on such an old market of US buyers bears the risk of investing to win over customers who mightn’t be around for too much longer.

And thank God for that, lest the Ford Mustang GT ship with a standard Front Seat Prune Juice Dispenser.

Aaron Birch is an automotive enthusiast and writer/filmmaker from Detroit, MI. As a rule, he only buys cars older than himself.

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