American seniors have reached records in terms of both health and wealth. And at the same time the US auto market is packed with cars that offer the latest in safety features that will keep older drivers happy and alive behind the wheel.
These corroborating forces have delivered an incredibly powerful economic engine for auto manufacturers. While the next generations are targeting less and less car ownership also because of their diminished financial power, it might be the first time Social Security recipients become the most promising demographics for the auto industry. “Honestly, ” comments Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark Hans-Richer, “we sell new bikes to guys in their 80s all the time.” And between 2003 and 2013 the tally of licensed drivers over the age of 65 rose by 8.2 million, a 29 percent jump, show figures from the US Census bureau. Even the very old are increasingly unwilling to leave their cars parked in the driveway or garage – there are around 3.5 million US drivers of 84 years or more, which is an incredible 43 percent surge from a decade ago.
At the other end of the line, teenage drivers no longer have the financial power or even the desire to purchase their own car – during the same 10 year timeframe the number of drivers below 20 years of age has declined by three percent. Additionally, seniors are also driving away increasingly in new vehicles – IHS says the number of new cars registered to households with a head age 65 or more has jumped 65 percent. And drivers of 75 years or more registered six times the number of new cars bought by consumers between 18 and 24.