Bandon, Ore. — In the first half of the year, CNW Research discovered that the average age of primary drivers slipped to 49.6 years old, down from 49.8 years in the same period of 2012 and 50.8 years in 2011.

“That’s welcome news for the auto industry that was on the verge of becoming the manufacturers of products just for the older consumer,” wrote CNW’s Art Spinella in his firm’s June retail automotive summary.

The drop in the primary driver’s average age indicates buyers are younger, but it still doesn’t compare to the 1985 average age of 39.2 years, CNW noted. “That was a different era with cars and trucks holding a different level of importance to young Americans,” Spinella wrote.

“Throughout the 1990s, the primary driver age increased, sometimes, by significant amounts year over year. There were years when prices began rising to levels that outstripped the share of income consumers were willing to pay for a vehicle. It was the age of leasing as an alternative to keep monthly payments down.”

Also notable is in comparison with 2005’s numbers - Ford lowered the average age of primary drivers by 11 percent, while the average age for Volswagen/Audi fell 32 percent. Hyundai’s average age of primary drivers rose by 16 percent, which CNW attributes to its release of more upscale models.

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