Roy Morgan Research
March 02, 2020

New data shows decreasing proportion of younger drivers on our roads, but more seniors staying behind the wheel

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 8307
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New automotive data from Roy Morgan shows significant changes to who is likely to be behind the wheel in Australia, with the proportion of people in younger age groups driving decreasing while the proportion in older age groups driving rises. The data also reveals that of those intending to purchase a new vehicle in the future, a growing proportion are older Australians.

As of December 2019, the age group with the highest proportion of vehicle drivers is 50-64, with 93%. This was followed by those aged 65-69 (91%), 35-49 (91%), 70-74 (89%), 75-79 (86%), 30-34 (84%), 25-29 (74%), 80+ (71%), 18-24 (63%) and 16-17 (32%).

These new findings are drawn from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, Australia’s leading source of consumer insight, compiled from in-depth face-to-face interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year in their homes.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says a clear trend has emerged over the past ten years when it comes to the different age groups on the road.

“We’re seeing a consistent drop in the proportion of younger Australians who are driving, particularly in the 18-24 and 25-29 age groups. The inverse is true for older Australians, with age groups such as 75-79 and 80+ displaying considerable growth in the proportion still driving.”

“A broad range of factors are contributing to this trend: changes in public transport, ride-sharing services, urbanisation, economic circumstances and employment all play a part in shifting the demographics of those who drive on our roads.” 

Proportion of each age group that are drivers

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Jan. – Dec. 2009, n= 51,874. Jan. – Dec. 2019, n= 50,422. Base: Australians 16+.

New vehicle intentions shifting to older market – almost half now aged 50+

There is also a shift underway in the new car buyer market. Now 48% of new vehicle intenders are aged 50 plus compared to only 38% a decade ago. This growth is being driven by those aged 65+ who now represent 18% of the market (up from 9%). The 50-64 age group is relatively unchanged at 30%.

In comparison only 22% of new vehicle intenders are now under 35, compared with 28% a decade ago. Those aged 35-49 now account for 30% of intenders, down from 34% in 2009.

“The new vehicle-buying intention data reflects the growing proportion of older Australians driving. The biggest shift we have seen is in the 65 and over age group, which has doubled its presence in the new vehicle intenders market,”  said Ms. Levine.

“These new findings, as well as other Roy Morgan automotive data, can provide significant advertising and marketing insights for car brands. As has recently been demonstrated by the departure of Holden, the auto industry operates in a challenging market amid sluggish economic conditions. It’s therefore vital that car brands have reliable and accurate data on hand.”

Age group split of Australians intending to purchase a new vehicle

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Jan. – Dec. 2009, n=5,618, Jan. – Dec. 2019, n=4,563. Base: Australians 14+.

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Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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