American Automakers Are Winning Back Crucial Young Buyers

2013 ford fiesta 1.0 liter los angeles driveFord bills the new Fiesta as a fun car for young buyers.

The number of young people buying cars in the US is plummeting, but potential drivers ages 18-34 — aka millennials — still represent a crucial market for automakers.

A new study from Edmunds and R.L. Polk has good news for Detroit: The youth market, long dominated by Japan, is jumping ship.

In 2008, Japanese brands — including Toyota, Nissa, and Honda — accounted for 52.3 per cent of new car registrations by drivers 18 to 24 years old, and 50.6 per cent of registrations by 25- to 34-year-old drivers.

In 2012, those numbers slumped nearly 10 per cent, to 42.6 per cent and 42.9 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, American brands made solid progress, improving their market share by nearly nearly 2 per cent.

But the real jump was by South Korean brands, who picked up most of the buyers who no longer want Japanese cars: Their share of the group rose more than 10 per cent.

Everyone is going after the youth market: Lincoln created a Super Bowl ad featuring Jimmy Fallon reading tweets. Mercedes-Benz believes the Smart car is great for young buyers (along with urbanites and the “forward-thinking”).

Ford is tempting first-time car buyers with the Fiesta, a 1.0-liter engined car that’s a lot of fun to drive. Cadillac — with a reputation for having the oldest drivers around — says first-time luxury buyers are key to its resurgence.

But Kia and Hyundai are beating them all.

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