boomers in carForget new car ads aimed at twenty-somethings – that’s not who’s buying cars. Insert sound of CAR-BOOM!! here.

A new study by J.D. Power (who is that guy, anyway...and who are the associates?) and AARP showed that people over 50 are now buying 6 out every 10 new vehicles sold in the U.S. And if you look only at the big three carmakers in the U.S., 67% of new models are bought by boomers.

So what’s the deal? Retirees who want some new rides is one big factor. Maybe they have been scrimping for a bunch of years driving ten year-old used cars, but they want that new car smell again.

It could also be that boomers are the only people who can afford new cars. Have you looked at the prices lately? It sounds awfully cliché, but who doesn’t remember (circa 1969) when you could buy a brand new car with all the options for around $3,200? Try multiplying that figure by a factor of 10 to arrive at the average cost in 2012.
Another factor is that younger workers have been harder hit by the recession than boomers, so they are the ones foregoing new cars and hanging on to their used vehicles for longer periods.

And maybe, just maybe, boomers are acting out what that tiresome bumper sticker says – “We’re Spending Our Children’s Inheritance.” Maybe some boomers are tired of paying for elder care, tired of subsidizing spending my kids inheritanceunemployed/underemployed offspring, and just plain tired. And as everyone knows, the cure for this particular malaise is to go shopping. For a new $30,000 car. It may also explain the increasing popularity of leasing. That way you can get a new car every two or three years by making exorbitant monthly payments. Is it really cost-effective? No, but who cares. Life is short and the least you can do for yourself is have a nice ride – or two. Don’t forget all those retirees that have also bought old trucks and muscle cars to play with on the weekend.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying a new car, this should give you the confidence to just do it. You’ll be helping the economy. Your kids really don’t want that big inheritance anyway. They know it will just spoil them for the way the world really works.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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