US Young Buyers Turn Their Backs on Japanese Brands, Choose the Detroit Three image

A recent study from R.L. Polk and Edmunds.com shows that young buyers prefer Detroit brands over the Japanese ones.

Last year, new vehicles from GM, Ford and Chrysler accounted for 36.8% of the total number of vehicles purchased by Americans aged between 25 and 34, an increase from 35.4% in 2008. Also last year, the share of Japanese vehicles from Toyota, Honda, Nissan and other foreign automakers dropped from 50.6% to 42.9%.

The Detroit Three managed to attract young customers as never before, thanks to their appealing small cars, which would have been considered unprofitable in the past. Chrysler has the cute Fiat 500, GM has the small Spark and Chevrolet Sonic, while Ford has the small car lineup like the Focus and Fiesta, with which it sponsored TV’s American Idol.

But American automakers should not consider this a victory yet, as South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia come quickly from behind. According to the study, young buyers purchased about 10% of the vehicles produced by the South Korean automakers.

“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 senionalyst Jessica Caldwell in a statement. “But while Detroit might be chiseling away at the Japanese grip on Gen X and Gen Y, South Korean brands are taking big hacks.”