A new study by the automotive market analyst and forecaster Marketing Systems suggests that demographic trends will act to reduce the size of the German new car market in the long run. In particular, the expected decline of Germany’s population over the next 50 years will lead to shrinking new car demand. The population will also age significantly.

Marketing Systems presents three scenarios in its study.

The first and most conservative scenario sees new car demand per capita becoming static from 2010 onwards.  Scenario two, representing ‘limited growth’, sees car sales per capita increasing for a few more years before reaching a plateau.  The third scenario, of ‘unlimited growth’, anticipates continuing growth of new car sales per capita from 2010 onwards.  All three scenarios indicate that new car sales will decline overall during the forecast period, due to the expected decline of Germany’s population. 

The study also points out that the population in Germany will be ageing with a big increase in the percentage of the population aged 60 and over.  Currently accounting for 24% of total German new car sales, this group will account for 35% by 2050, while the under-50s will account for 43% of sales in place of 55% today. 

Marketing Systems says that peak volume in the German new car market will be reached between 2015 and 2025.  But by 2050, new car volume will lie somewhere between 8% below and 1% above today’s level.

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However, Germany’s car population will grow significantly over the next five years, from today’s 44.4 million to between 49 and 54 million – representing growth of 10-20%.  The density of the car population per capita will reach a level between 685 and 760 cars per 1,000 people. 

Marketing Systems’ third scenario envisages 40% growth in car population density, with 90% of over 18-year olds owning a car by 2050, compared to today’s 66%. 

The company also points out that a host of other factors besides population changes will affect future new car demand.  However, while economic factors, legislation, technological developments or environmental impacts may be difficult to predict accurately over such a long period, the trend of population change can be forecast with precision.  For that reason, Marketing Systems’ study assumed no change to present non-population-related factors in its long-term forecast of the German car market.