Survey Says: Germans Will Abandon Their Cars

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Until recently, popular wisdom had it that Germans would rather not eat than give up their cars. According to lore, Germans even eschew back seat loving – because it might spoil the immaculate interior. Horrors of horrors: The Teutonic automotive love affair may be losing its lust. Nearly one third of Germans contemplate getting rid of at least one of their cars in the next six to twelve months. This according to a study commissioned by Europcar, a large European car rental company that has a vested interest in these developments. The shocking study has been published in Das Autohaus.


Last year, only 17 percent of the Germans had announced they would dump their cars and switch to public transportation, car sharing, rental cars, or mopeds. Never mind that they didn’t follow through. According to the ever so efficient Kraftfahrtbundesamt, Germans bought 26.1 percent more cars in the first nine months of 2009 than in 2008. Sales of used cars dropped by only 1.6 percent. Europcar hopes that a new trend is their friend: All indications say the German Abwrackprämien-powered sales orgy is about to experience a sudden interuptus in October after the financial lube has dried up. But a third of German cars being retired and not replaced next year? A rental car company’s wet dream.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Oct 14, 2009

    I think part of the reason kids in America don't seem in a hurry to get thier licenses is that these days, Mommy and Daddy are more than willing to cart the little darlings around. Heaven forbid that little darling is out of their sight in the world full of (media overblown) child molesters. When I was a kid (I'm 40 now), if I wanted or needed to get somewhere I had two choices: walk, or bicycle. Or don't go. Fun during the winter in Maine. Mom and Dad sure weren't going to give me a ride, they were busy working. Needless to say, I got my license at age 17. it is certainly possible to do without a car in Germany or San Francisco(!). I think I would rather own a car in NYC than San Francisco. Not much chance of it in rural Maine or Montana.

  • Vww12 Vww12 on Oct 15, 2009

    Wow, after seeing Bertel Schmitt and others demolish the "abandoning cars" study "conclusion"... ... it is clear all it was greenie wishful thinking, PR pap.

  • Varezhka The biggest underlying issue of Mitsubishi Motors was that for most of its history the commercial vehicles division was where all the profit was being made, subsidizing the passenger vehicle division losses. Just like Isuzu.And because it was a runt of a giant conglomerate who mainly operated B2G and B2B, it never got the attention it needed to really succeed. So when Daimler came in early 2000s and took away the money making Mitsubishi-Fuso commercial division, it was screwed.Right now it's living off of its legacy user base in SE Asia, while its new parent Nissan is sucking away at its remaining engineering expertise in EV and kei cars. I'd love to see the upcoming US market Delica, so crossing fingers they will last that long.
  • ToolGuy A deep-dive of the TTAC Podcast Archives gleans some valuable insight here.
  • Tassos I heard the same clueless, bigoted BULLSHEET about the Chinese brands, 40 years ago about the Japanese Brands, and more recently about the Koreans.If the Japanese and the Koreans have succeeded in the US market, at the expense of losers such as Fiat, Alfa, Peugeot, and the Domestics,there is ZERO DOUBT in my mind, that if the Chinese want to succeed here, THEY WILL. No matter what one or two bigots do about it.PS try to distinguish between the hard working CHINESE PEOPLE and their GOVERNMENT once in your miserable lives.
  • 28-Cars-Later I guess Santa showed up with bales of cash for Mitsu this past Christmas.
  • Lou_BC I was looking at an extended warranty for my truck. The F&I guy was trying to sell me on the idea by telling me how his wife's Cadillac had 2 infotainment failures costing $4,600 dollars each and how it was very common in all of their products. These idiots can't build a reliable vehicle and they want me to trust them with the vehicle "taking over" for me.
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