Germans Let Cars Age as Consumers Halt Buying in Crisis

Cars on German roads are older than they’ve ever been as consumers balk at replacing aging models with new ones amid Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis.

Registrations of new models in the country slumped 4.7 percent in June, the fifth decline this year, leading to an 8.1 percent drop for the first half of 2013 to 1.5 million vehicles, according to data released today from Germany’s motor vehicle office, KBA.

The lack of buying meant cars are 8.7 years old on average, a new high and a full year older than the pre-crisis level in 2007, the VDA, Germany’s auto-industry association, said today.

“Germany naturally can’t decouple itself from the crisis-laden environment” in Europe, VDA President Matthias Wissmann said at a press conference in Berlin. “There’s evidently insecurity because of the ongoing euro crisis.”

The VDA stuck to its forecast for full-year sales of 2.9 million to 3 million vehicles in Germany and said demand would hover at about 3 million autos in the coming years in Europe’s biggest car market. Still, declines in the second half will gradually decrease and a recovery in the region will come eventually, the auto lobby said.

The roughly 3 million people in western Europe who aren’t buying cars now “haven’t all switched to public transportation or car-sharing offers” during the crisis, said Wissmann. “The desire is still there, but it’s being delayed because of the current economic situation.”

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