Boomers the big buy­ers

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL | -

THE glossy brochures and fast­paced tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials are full of twenty-some­things moun­tain-bik­ing and sip­ping lat­tes at in­ner-city cafes.

But the re­al­ity is the city SUV craze is driven by Baby Boomers, the over-50s with dodgy hips who find them eas­ier to climb into.

Re­searchers say the num­ber of young Aus­tralian driv­ers buy­ing a new car is de­creas­ing as they strug­gle to keep pace with the ris­ing cost of liv­ing and mega mort­gages.

The av­er­age age of a new-car buyer in Aus­tralia is 50 but that av­er­age goes up for baby SUVs.

Li­cence data in Aus­tralia shows the num­ber of learner per­mits is­sued to teenagers over the past decade has kept pace with – or is slightly higher than – pop­u­la­tion growth.

How­ever, they are buy­ing fewer new cars than ever be­fore.

More peo­ple aged 70 and over are buy­ing new cars than those un­der 25, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try sources fa­mil­iar with con­sumer buy­ing pat­terns for the ma­jor au­to­mo­tive brands.

This means the most vul­ner­a­ble road users – aged 17 to 25 – are more likely to be driv­ing older and less safe cars.

“Cer­tainly young buy­ers are less rep­re­sented in the new-car mar­ket given their pop­u­la­tion,” says an in­dus­try an­a­lyst.

“Un­der-25s rep­re­sent be­tween just 2 and 3 per cent of the to­tal new car mar­ket and yet are ap­prox­i­mately 12 per cent of all li­cence hold­ers.”

About 70 per cent of those younger buy­ers are women.

“That’s be­cause boys tend to go off and buy used cars they can hot up, or they can only af­ford a sec­ond-hand ute (for) their ap­pren­tice­ship,” he says.

The an­a­lyst says women are over-rep­re­sented among un­der-25 new-car buy­ers be­cause “they’re ei­ther more prac­ti­cal with their buy­ing de­ci­sion and want a car that doesn’t break down – or their par­ents are more in­clined to step in and help them buy a car that doesn’t break down”.

“It’s as if par­ents are say­ing, ‘I don’t care if my son drives around in an old clanger, but what if some­thing hap­pens to my daugh­ter’s car? I don’t want her stranded late at night.’

“She is seen as more vul­ner­a­ble if her car breaks down, is caught in the rain and can’t get home,” the in­dus­try vet­eran says. “We have ridicu­lous dou­ble stan­dards about this stuff.”

The in­dus­try likes to think young peo­ple buy new cars, he says, “but they just don’t”.

“The idea that car com­pa­nies tar­get advertising of new cars at young peo­ple is a bit of a joke re­ally,” he says.

“Part of the prob­lem is there are advertising agen­cies that don’t like mak­ing ads for mid­dle-aged peo­ple. Ads with a youth­ful look also make older buy­ers feel young at heart. It’s not cool to ad­ver­tise to old peo­ple, whether it res­onates or not.” TOY­OTA has cre­ated a Tonka ver­sion of its “un­break­able” HiLux – to show ute fans what’s pos­si­ble when its de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers are left to their own de­vices.

This one-off spe­cial, based on the top-sell­ing SR5 flag­ship, comes from the re­search and de­vel­op­ment team in Port Mel­bourne.

“The HiLux Tonka Con­cept is dra­matic ev­i­dence that our lo­cal team loves to have fun, we’re keen to ex­plore new ideas and we’re look­ing to push the bound­aries,” says de­signer Nick Ho­gios.

The turbo diesel en­gine is stan­dard but breathes via a deep­wa­ter snorkel and the rest is HiLux on steroids. On tall of­froad tyres and heavy-duty sus­pen­sion, it rides about 150mm higher.

Ex­tra ar­mour pro­tects the un­der­body and over­sized fen­der flares and slim­mer side steps have been de­signed for mud plug­ging and rock scram­bling.

The new front bar, an­gled for bet­ter ac­cess an­gles off-road, is com­pat­i­ble with the airbag sen­sors. The bon­net gives way to a car­bon-fi­bre skin with a “power bulge”.

In the tub, the ute has a full- size spare, spare fuel and ex­tra stor­age for camp­ing trips. The tail­gate is also a new de­sign.

The Tonka edi­tion was cre­ated to take to coun­try shows around Aus­tralia. So far, there are no plans for a show­room ver­sion.

How­ever, Toy­ota is test­ing the mar­ket with a new TRD “Black” edi­tion, also un­veiled this week. There are no per­for­mance up­grades but it gets unique wheels, TRD grille and front bash plate, fen­der flares, black sports bar and side steps – and it comes only in black or white.

Prices start at $58,990 drive­away for a white man­ual.

Au­to­matic adds $2000 and black me­tal­lic paint adds $550.

Toy­ota Aus­tralia sales and mar­ket­ing chief Tony Cramb says: “Lo­cal buy­ers voted with their wal­lets to make HiLux the best-sell­ing ve­hi­cle in Aus­tralia last year and the ma­jor­ity clearly in­di­cated their pref­er­ence for up-mar­ket fea­tures com­bined with HiLux’s renowned go-any­where ca­pa­bil­ity.

“We have re­sponded to that de­mand by com­pil­ing premium com­po­nents, in­clud­ing the re­spected TRD brand, that will fur­ther dis­tin­guish HiLux.”

SATUR­DAY APAPRIL 1 2017

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