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SEMA Asks What Car Models are Driven Most by Youth

The typical enthusiast in the compact-performance market is 18 to 25 years old, according to SEMA’s 2003 Compact Performance Industry Update. As much as 74% of compact-performance enthusiasts fit into this category, so SEMA sought to find some accessorizing trends of this age group. Car buying and accessorizing trends of the 16-to-27-year-old age group were recently uncovered in a SEMA survey covering the broad market of automotive consumers. This age range was chosen to encompass all Generation Y or “youth market” drivers. Results from the survey show that about 32% of the vehicle owners in the 16-to-27-year-old age group have accessorized or plan to accessorize their vehicles. The following table lists the top ten brands chosen by the Generation Y consumers from the survey. Both cars and light trucks were included to calculate brand rankings.

Top 10 Vehicle Makes Owned by 16 – 27 Year Old Drivers

Total Sample/Have or Plan to Accessorize Their Vehicle

1. Ford 18.42% / 1. Ford 18.33%

2. Dodge 10.53% / 2.Dodge 15.00%

3. Toyota 8.95% / 3. Honda 11.67%

4. Honda 8.95% /  4. Nissan 8.33%

5. Chevrolet 7.37% / 5. Toyota 6.67%

6. Nissan 6.84% / 6. Chevrolet 5.00%

7. Saturn 4.21% /  7. Lincoln 5.00%

8. Volkswagen 4.21% / 8. Oldsmobile 3.33%

9. Pontiac 4.21% / 9. GMC 3.33%

10. Mazda 2.63% /  10. Pontiac 3.33%

Source: SEMA

Taking a closer look at specific car models owned by the “Youth Market” reveals that car brand preference does not necessarily match overall brand preference. For example, the Honda Civic, Toyota Camry and Ford Focus are the top three car models accessorized by the 16-to-27-year-old age group. It is surprising to find the Camry among the top car models driven by both the total sample of consumers as well as those that accessorize. Another point of interest lies in the fact that Ford’s Focus does not hold a place in the top ten list of our total sample of consumers, although it places third among those that have accessorized or plan to accessorize their vehicle. The following table compared the broad consumer (total sample) to consumers that accessorize their vehicles.

Top 10 Car Models Owned by the 16 – 27 Age Group

Total Sample / Have or Plan to Accessorize Their Vehicle

1. Dodge Neon 4.74% / 1. Honda Civic 8.33%

2. Toyota Camry 4.21% / 2. Toyota Camry 6.25%

3. Honda Accord 4.21% / 3. Ford Focus 4.17%

4. Volkswagen Jetta 3.68% / 4. Dodge Neon 4.17%

5. Ford Taurus 3.16% / 5. Ford Mustang 2.08%

6. Honda Civic 2.63% / 6. Ford Taurus 2.08%

7. Nissan Maxima 2.63% / 7. Dodge Intrepid 2.08%

8. Ford Mustang 2.11% / 8. Honda Civic Si 2.08%

9. Ford Escort 2.11% / 9. Honda Accord 2.08%

10. Saturn S 2.11% / 10. Nissan Maxima 2.08%

Source: SEMA

Mobile electronics dominate the list of top accessories purchased by the 16-to-27-year-old age group. Alarm systems top the list of items first purchased, while CD players/changers represent the most recent accessory purchased. The table below lists the accessories most purchased by the Generation Y age group—the age group most representative of the compact performance market.

Top Accessories Purchased by the 16 – 27 Age Group

First Purchase

Alarm System 20.00%

CD Player / Changer 11.67%

Window Tinting 8.33%

Car / Truck Floor Mats 6.67%

DVD Player 5.00%

Most Recent Purchase

CD Player / Changer 6.67%

Car / Truck Floor Mats 6.67%

Speakers 6.67%

Hands Free Phone/Accessories 5.00%

Amplifier 5.00%

Alarm System 5.00%

Hub Caps/ Wheel Covers 5.00%

Window Tinting 5.00%

Next Planned Purchase

Remote Start 6.67%

DVD Player 6.67%

MP3 Player 5.00%

Amplifier 5.00%

CD Player / Changer 5.00%

Source: SEMA

SEMA administered this survey to a nationally representative Internet survey panel, and 1,180 responses were received during October of 2004.


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