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Adults Over 50 Dominate Car Purchases

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When it comes to car purchases, adults over 50 surpass younger consumers. In fact, this demographic is responsible for three out of five new car acquisitions, according to a report by AARP Media Sales, in conjunction with J.D. Power and Associates.

Sixty two percent of adults over 50 currently account for new vehicle acquisitions, compared to two years ago, when they accounted for 50 percent. The number is even higher for hybrid sales. Adults over 50 make up 73 percent of hybrid purchases.

Out of the 39 car brands measured in the study—which examined the media habits and profiles of more than 41,000 new vehicle buyers—32 credited the bulk of their sales to consumers over 50 years of age.

As a comparison, car sales were down 36 percent in 2009 versus 2008. And, according to the study, adults 18-49 were responsible for 71 percent of this drop.

"The primary reasons for this escalation is the huge population of baby boomers turning 50 and their ability to spend on higher-ticket items during harsh economic times. [Meanwhile] younger adults are moving back home to ease basic financial burdens, such as housing and food," said AARP Media Sales research director Mark Bradbury.

Additionally, the study found that 33 percent of adults over 50 pay cash for their cars, compared to 13 percent of consumers under 50. Consumers over 65 are also an increasingly important demo for carmakers. Nearly 24 percent of new vehicles are purchased by adults aged 65 and older, which is nearly double (12.7 percent) compared to 2001.