Or, at least, their automakers, says Vanessa Fuhrmans;
...demographics is working against Europe. In the U.S., the population aged 15 to 65 is set to expand well past 2020, according to United Nations data.
The same population in Europe, in contrast, appears to have peaked in 2011, because of decades of declining birthrates, and the U.N. projects that it will contract 1.4% over the next decade.
A 2012 Morgan Stanley report projected that Europe's aging population alone could depress sales by 400,000 cars a year over that period.Europe may, pace Will Rogers, have to be the first continent to ride to the poorhouse on a Vespa;
"People may become optimistic as soon as some indicators improve and they start thinking, 'My job is safe, and I can invest in a car,' " says Mr. [Jean-Marc] Gales, the former Peugeot executive. "But demographics don't change, and they are not positive for most European countries."
European youth who are coming of driving age also are less inclined to operate and own cars.
Across much of the developed world—including in the U.S.—fewer young adults have been getting their drivers' licenses than in previous decades, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.Being a Gearhead isn't chic;
In Europe's biggest markets—Germany, France and the U.K.—the under-30 crowd used cars for a smaller proportion of their total travel as of the mid-2000s than they did in the previous decade, according to research by BMW AG's ... Institute for Mobility Research; Americans under 30 used cars for about the same proportion of their travel over roughly the same time period, it found.
"Owning a car just isn't so important for my generation," says Angus Ross, a 28-year-old restaurant interior designer from the U.K. now living in Paris.
Though Mr. Ross considered himself a "real car nut" in his youth and initially studied automotive technology, he says he probably won't consider owning one until his 40s. "For my dad, a car was always a kind of status thing, but they really just bore me."