DAT Report 2017 reveals importance people attach to having their own car
Vehicle reliability and attractive design are right at the top of the wish-list when it comes to buying a car. In addition, people are currently prepared to spend more on their new car than they were last year. For most customers, buying a car is an important decision that involves both the heart and the head. Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), drew attention to these key results of the DAT Report 2017 when it was presented in Berlin.
“I am delighted that DAT is holding this event here in Berlin, because the DAT Report provides information based on facts. And precisely these facts are especially important for the capital Berlin, because this is where policy decisions are made which affect those who drive and purchase cars. There are some groups who say that people no longer find it so important to have a car of their own and this is losing significance. They also claim that this can be seen from surveys. I don’t want to make any assumptions about whether those who hold this opinion have or drive a car of their own. However, it is certain that the DAT Report presents a different picture of reality,” Wissmann explained to a large number of high-ranking guests.
The results of the report were interesting, he said, most particularly because it had surveyed around 4,000 people whose lives include cars. One third of respondents were buyers of new cars, one third were buyers of used cars, and one third were users of passenger cars. The statements in the report were therefore especially important to the automotive industry, he said.
Wissmann emphasized individual core points and stressed, “People obviously still find having a car of their own very important. After buying real estate, buying a car is the second largest investment that a private household makes.” The VDA welcomed the fact that the amount respondents were willing to invest in a car had risen by around 4 percent. On average, customers spend 29,650 euros on their new car, which is a good 1,000 euros more than last year. “We are talking here about real transactions, not merely about declarations of intent. In economic terms, having one’s own, new car is particularly important owing to its utility function for each individual driver. People clearly don’t want a car that says they are ‘doing without’ but one with the latest features and a high level of safety and comfort,” Wissmann underscored.
He added that the DAT Report also cleared up the prejudice of some critics that people were only buying cars out of necessity, and that driving was actually something of a burden. “If 92 percent of buyers of new cars say, ‘Driving is fun’ – and an equally large majority see their own mobility as ‘severely curtailed’ without a car, these figures would be ‘election results’ that most parties can only dream of – at least in democracies,” Wissmann emphasized. He went on to say the VDA had always stressed that buying a car was more than just a rational decision; the DAT Report now underpins this thesis with facts: “58 percent of buyers of new cars agree with the statement that their car expresses their personality. Among new car buyers of German premium brands the share is 78 percent, which is much larger,” Wissmann said.
It was also interesting, he said, to note the criteria for purchases of new cars, and explained: “Vehicle reliability is top of the list, followed by appearance and design, with purchase price in third place. What does that tell us? People want a high-quality car – and it also has to look attractive.”
Of course the price plays a role, Wissmann said, but not the lead, and it is certainly not the sole purchasing criterion. Even if some still like to claim that cars are too expensive and people are therefore less inclined to buy one, “the ‘fact check’ in the report comes to a different conclusion,” he underscored.
The VDA president pointed out that the proportion of private customers buying new cars has risen to 35 percent (from 34.2 percent), while the annual mileage has increased – by around 1,000 kilometers to 15,320 kilometers (14,350 kilometers in 2015). The average new car consumes less fuel and has better features than the one it replaces.
Wissmann stressed, “If we consider these four points, we find explanations and reasons why the German passenger car market is developing so well. At nearly 3.4 million new registrations, it added 5 percent in 2016 and thus reached the highest level since the beginning of the decade. This is also true of used car sales (7.4 million in 2016).”
Wissmann, who is also President of OICA (the International Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers), added, “The passenger car market is also growing worldwide – in the current year it will reach 84 million units.” In 2016 the US market for light vehicles set a new record of 17.5 million units sold, as did China by climbing to 23.7 million passenger cars. Western Europe increased by 6 percent to 14 million new cars. “The German group brands are in a strong position. In Western Europe they take around 50 percent of the market, and in China, the world’s largest passenger car market, they account for about one fifth,” Wissmann stated.
However, no one in the sector was resting on their laurels. “The international competition is getting tougher, and the challenges are growing. There is no question about it, we are living in ‘disruptive times’: electric mobility is on the way, and so is digitization. New players are arriving on the field,” Wissmann said. He added that the German automotive industry was not hanging back but pursuing an offensive that encompassed several different areas. For example, by 2020 the German OEMs will more than treble their portfolio of electric cars – from the current 30 to nearly 100 models. By 2020, the German automotive industry will invest over 40 billion euros in alternative powertrains.
“This huge expenditure must be financed from current business, that is, from the sale of cars with internal combustion engines. We are convinced that modern diesels and gasoline cars will continue to be needed. Therefore, our companies continue to develop the classical powertrains in parallel to electric mobility. Fuel consumption can still be reduced by another 10 to 15 percent,” Wissmann underscored.