• Germany's news in English

Germans' love affair with cars changing gears

DPA/The Local · 19 Sep 2015, 11:16

Published: 19 Sep 2015 11:16 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On Saturday, the IAA auto show throws open its doors to the general public in Frankfurt, drawing car lovers in their hundreds of thousands to ogle a glittering display of bright, shiny new models.

The organisers are predicting that up to 900,000 visitors will pass through the vast exhibition halls until September 27.

"Germans have a very special relationship with the car, which is evident in the importance they attach to the quality and innovation of the vehicles," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management.

That is evident in the success of top-of-the-range national brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

"They spend more on average than people from other countries do on a car and have a clear preference for high-end vehicles," Elmar Kades, auto expert at the consultancy firm AlixPartners, told AFP.

The ingrained love of fine cars is also reflected in attitudes that might raise eyebrows elsewhere.

"The company car is very important in Germany" and is one of the first questions that always come up at job interviews, Kades said.

"Germany is a country where people are very attached to material things and ownership, and where the car is seen as a symbol of success," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Duisburg-Essen.

A small scratch on the car bonnet will often send the owner speeding straight to the garage to have it repaired, the expert added with a laugh.

But young people in Germany appear to be turning away from the traditional view.

"The car no longer has the importance for young people as it did 30 years ago, particularly for the young generation today who live in big cities," said Stefan Bratzel.

According to one study by the Center for Automotive Research, the average age of buyers of new cars this year was 53, the highest-ever.

That is not just because of Germany's ageing population, experts say.

The 18-45 age group -- which makes up 40 percent of the population -- represents just a quarter of buyers of new cars.

"Other products are vying for young people's attention, such as holidays... . This has increased sharply in recent years," said the study's author, Dudenhoeffer.

"In big cities, the car is losing its importance as a status symbol and the emotional relationship attached to it," he said.

It is a phenomenon not only seen in Germany, but still primarily an urban one, added Bratzel, pointing out that in rural areas, young people still see the car as a symbol of freedom.

Peter Fuss, auto expert at EY, noted another development.

Story continues below…

"Fewer young people have a driving licence and more and more take part in car-sharing schemes. A car no longer has to be owned by its user," he said.

"For the young generation, it is no longer so important to have their first Golf or their first Peugeot. They prefer to spend money on experiences," said Gero Graf, director of the German operations of Drivy, a French startup that allows car-owners to rent out their vehicle to other people when they are not using it themselves.

Germany, the cradle of the automobile industry, is also the world leader in car sharing. In Berlin, 45 percent of households do not own a car.

Auto manufacturers are looking to keep up with this trend, for example, by offering apps to that show which mode of transport is best for a journey or car-sharing services

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd