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Automobile: when the new is overtaken by the second-hand market

The automobile is slipping down a bad slope. It is once again becoming a luxury product. One sign is clear: private individuals are buying fewer and fewer new cars. Now a minority, they now account for only 45% of total car registrations, a five-point erosion in four years.In 2019, 3.3% of French households bought a brand new car, down from 7% 30 years ago. Even if this decline is more than compensated for by other sales channels, particularly company fleets, it is by no means insignificant.

Such a scissors effect, which is also perceptible in other European countries, is less a reflection of the advent of a utilitarian conception that would reduce the car to the rank of a simple means of transport than a shadow cast by several transformations that are perceptible within French society. Indirectly, this shift also shows the difficulties that brands have in adapting to the energy revolution that they have to complete.

A creeping gentility

As a result of rising car prices and higher car-related taxes, the social base of buyers of new models has been shrinking steadily over the past few decades.the customer profile is increasingly concentrated around categories with significant purchasing power.top employees, professionals and pensioners are overrepresented in the halls of dealerships.the median age of the buyer? The median age of the buyer is inexorably approaching 60 years of age. This is a rampant gentrification that hardly manages to counter the rise of low-cost brands, whose clientele is divided almost equally between households with limited budgets and those who, more affluent, simply refuse to devote as much money as before to the purchase of a car.The success of long-term rental schemes (LOA) also suggests that the ownership relationship has become distorted.

The dropout is not only the fault of the manufacturers or the consequence of the technological and safety enrichment of automobiles. It also reflects the impoverishment of part of the middle classes. It is not surprising, under these conditions, that the used car market broke records again last year.With the electrification of the range, prices will certainly increase, but manufacturers are still able to offer individuals, via long-term leasing formulas, contained monthly rents,” says Amaury de Bourmont, Director of Sales for Citroën and DS.

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