Boomers the big buyers
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.”