What is the profile of the european driver?


From the proportion of holders of the driving license to the worldwide perception of the car, the Observatoire Cetelem gives us his analysis and draws the portrait of the modern european driver.

Driving license – An uneven distribution

The proportion of driving license persons varies greatly from one country to another, and is even marginal for some countries.

The first difference can be noticed between developed and emerging countries. The possession of a driving license is much rarer in the latter. In Europe (including Spain, United Kingdom, France and Germany), almost 80% of the population has a driving license.

Another factor is age. In Europe, there is a growing gap between seniors and young adults. While the share of senior driving licenses holders grows, the proportion of young adults decreases.

Finally, women are increasingly represented in the proportion of people with a driving license.

How old is the European car buyer ?

In Europe, the average car buyer is getting older . He was 52 years old in 2012. Why? A 52 year old has the necessary budget for a new car when his/her children leave home.

Southern European, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese acquire a new vehicle between 7 and 9 years earlier than British people. Young adults who are leaving the family home later, have indeed the opportunity to save more money and therefore are able to purchase a new vehicle.

However, with the economic crisis that has pushed the unemployment rate up in these countries, like in Spain, the buyer’s average age has also increased, pushing back the age of acquiring a new vehicle.

In contrast, in emerging countries (Turkey, China, South Africa), buyers are younger. Particularly in China, where the average age is 35 .

Feminization of car buyers

In Europe, we are also seeing a strong feminization of the new-vehicle buyer profile. Woman now represent 31 % of car buyers.

In Turkey, women are still under-represented in the purchase of new vehicles. This is mainly due to the fact that only 29 % of women are employed.

The car, object of desire or utility?

Today’s motorists  consider the car  to be a practical object rather than an object of desire as highlighted by the following results. “Time saving ” ranks first , followed by “a necessary indispensable means of transport ” and finally ” freedom , independence “. Finally, today we are witnessing a normalization of the car, with 81 % of motorists seeing it as a simple means of transport.

Price, a worldwide purchasing criterion

Despite differences in the perception of the car, the price remains the main criterion for the purchase of a vehicle. Then come fuel consumption and safety criteria.

However, a small particularity is noted for Turkey, where  “fuel consumption” is placed before the price.

How does a car buyer make his mind up?

Automotive website

Motorist look at several sources of information before deciding to purchase a car. If Internet occupies an important place in the decision process (3rd place), 41 % of motorists confirm that the car testing isalso crucial.

Listening to advice from those around us comes in 2nd position, just before finding information on the Internet. Research on the brand’s website is positioned in 5th position after auto websites and professional advice.

For example, Polish people and Italians will focus their searches on the web, while Belgians and Germans will turn respectively towards the manufacturer’s  brochures or the test drive.

Car dealership – Satisfaction does not mean loyalty

Generally, the majority of motorists say they have been well received by the dealerships where they bought their car. Customer satisfaction is particularly marked among Germans, Belgians and Polish motorists.

Turkish drivers are slightly less happy and give an average score of 7/10 to their car dealership.

Despite a high level of satisfaction with regard to car dealers, this does not mean that the customer will be loyal. Indeed, on average, 7 % of motorists say they will not return to the car dealership.


We can therefore conclude that despite certain differences, particularly in terms of age, the choice of the global car buyer will be mainly driven by the price of the car. The same decision support tools will be available with  a preference for  test driving.



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