Four in ten over 50s put off Volkswagen following emissions scandal

Wednesday 18 November 2015

The over 50s are some of the biggest car buyers in Britain, spending £7.6bn on new cars in 2014, almost two thirds of the total spend in the UK. New research by Saga among almost 10,000 over 50s shows that the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal has significantly influenced the type of car this influential group will choose next.

Four in ten over 50s put off Volkswagen following emissions scandal

Currently a third of over 50s drive diesel cars, with men much more likely to do so than women (40% v 25%).  People are much more likely to buy diesel in their 50s and 60s, perhaps because it is more economical for those still making the commute to work.  A third of people in these ages say they own a diesel, however this drops away to 18% amongst those in their 80s.

Volkswagen is a very popular brand among people over 50 and 10% of diesel cars owned by people in this age group are Volkswagens, making it the second most popular diesel car brand behind Ford.  However the research shows that this may not remain the case in future.

One in four people over 50 said that the scandal has put them off buying a Volkswagen and a third say it has put them off driving a diesel car altogether.  However Volkswagen owners are more loyal to the brand than the general public as only 17% said it had put them off buying another Volkswagen and just 25% say they were put off owning another diesel car.  Two thirds of people surveyed said that the scandal had made them suspicious of car manufacturers in general, indicating that there needs to be  a big push by manufacturers to restore consumer confidence in the industry.

That said a steadfast 51% say the scandal has not changed their car purchasing intentions, which increases to 55% of Volkswagen diesel owners.  However Volkswagen owners are feeling hoodwinked by company and two thirds of them say that the company should compensate those affected by the scandal.

Paul Green, Saga’s director of communications, commented: “The research shows that car manufacturers need to try very hard to win back the love of the over 50s for diesel cars.  These are very savvy generations of consumers, who will vote with their feet if they feel that people are trying to pull the wool over their eyes.  People over 50 are also environmentally sensitive, more than half say that they have concerns about the environmental impact of the diesel cars and this could prove to be a real double whammy for the industry.”


Notes to Editors
*Populus interviewed 9,986 people aged 50 over, online between 20th and 26th October 2015. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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