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Age Demographics: Car Brands with the oldest buyers

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Cars With the Oldest Buyers

October 2, 2014 6:37 am EDT

 

As the U.S. economy continues to recover, domestic car sales for 2014 are projected to come close to an all-time high. But while the auto sales have picked up, especially for luxury brands, older customers are driving much of the growth. Last year, the average American car buyer was almost 52 years old.

 

Some car brands are especially dependent on older buyers. While Land Rover’s average customer was just under 48 years old last year — the youngest average age among car brands reviewed — buyers of luxury brand Lincoln were the oldest in the nation, with an average age of 61 years. Based on a recent report from global information company IHS Automotive, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the cars with the oldest buyers.

 

Car purchases have clearly shifted to older Americans in recent years. Unlike previous generations, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 years old are now the most likely to buy a new car, according to a recent study released by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Still, this alone does not mean younger Americans are not driving. In his recent report for IHS Automotive, automotive analyst Tom Libby, wrote that these figures “are based on the ages of the people who register the vehicles, and they are not always the same as the principal drivers.”

 

Cost is a primary reason why American car buyers tend to be older. Libby explained that, to lower average buyer age, carmakers “need to have a portfolio that includes products that make [car ownership] feasible for the millennial.”

 

However, Karl Brauer, senior director of insights at vehicle information provider Kelley Blue Book (KBB), noted that price limits choices for older buyers as well. Elderly people often live on a fixed income, or will soon. But while many older car buyers try to limit costs, seven of the 10 most popular car makes among older Americans were luxury brands. According to Brauer, “Luxury appeals to people who have more money to spend and who want to treat themselves.” Older people are more likely to fit this description because they often have a lifetime’s worth of savings and may look to make to make an indulgent purchase.

 

Brand image can also affect the average age of a make’s customers. “Once you get labelled as [a brand] associated with the older buyer, you’re really in a bind with younger buyers,” KBB’s Libby said. For example, Buick, Lincoln, and Cadillac, “have a reputation of being driven by older buyers.” Similarly, Brauer told 24/7 Wall St. “no manufacturer wants to be known as the old persons’ car brand.”

 

Loyalty is often also often plays a role for older consumers. “Generally speaking, domestic brands and older buyers go together,” Brauer said. Older customers may fondly recall a time when American auto manufacturers were thriving. Younger buyers, conversely, have less attachment to car makes and utilize the internet to make more informed purchase decisions.

 

To identify the carmakers with the oldest buyers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average age of car buyers of 44 carmakers, From “Land Rover and Dodge Appeal to the Young Automotive Buyer,” a recent report from IHS Automotive. U.S. sales data was provided by Kelley Blue Book, and additional financial figures came from the carmakers’ press releases.

 

These are the cars with the oldest buyers.

 

 

1. Lincoln

Avg. age of buyer: 61.0 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 81,694

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): -0.6%

 

Registered Lincoln buyers were older than those of any other car brand. Last year, the average age of a Lincoln owner was 61 years old. Like other domestic makes, Lincoln, Ford’s (NYSE: F) luxury brand had its heyday several decades ago, and it has struggled to compete as imported brands have successfully drawn in younger customers. The cost of a Lincoln, however, is not completely out of reach, as its prices tend to be on the lower end compared to other luxury makes. Brands like Lincoln are desperate to get younger buyers, as some of their relatively old current customers may never buy another car. Lincoln sold 81,694 vehicles last year, down slightly from 2012 levels.

 

2. Buick

Avg. age of buyer: 60.3 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 205,509

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 13.9%

 

With an average customer age of 60.3 years, Buick’s clientele is older than that of any other non-luxury vehicle. Buick has struggled more than other brands to move away from its image as an older driver’s brand. Still, Buick has been successfully improving its brand by adding cars that appeal more to younger buyers, according to Brauer. Two SUVs, the full-size Enclave and compact Encore, have done particularly well, Brauer said. Additionally, while Buick is not considered a luxury brand, its latest Regal model may provide a more affordable alternative to BMW and Mercedes-Benz sedans.

 

3. Bugatti

Avg. age of buyer: 59.5 years (tied-3rd highest)

2013 U.S. unit sales: 1

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): -50.0%

 

Super-car maker Bugatti’s target market is already extremely exclusive. The high age of the brand’s customer is likely less a question of preference and more an issue of accessibility. Car and Driver describes the target customer of a Bugatti Veyron, with its estimated price tag of nearly $2 million, as “those with all the money in the world and a desire to go blisteringly fast.” KBB figures indicate just one Bugatti was sold in the U.S. last year. Luxury cars often appeal to customers who have the means to treat themselves, and purchasing a Bugatti is perhaps the ultimate luxury expense.

 

4. Cadillac

Avg. age of buyer: 59.5 years (tied-3rd highest)

2013 U.S. unit sales: 182,543

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 21.9%

 

Cadillac’s aging clientele may reflect General Motors’ (NYSE: GM) recent challenges. While the younger generations may mostly remember GM’s bankruptcy, many of Cadillac’s customers likely remember a time when GM was the indisputable number one car company in America. And although the company still leads the nation in terms of market share, its position is much more tenuous. Still, Cadillac was one of the fastest growing luxury brands last year, with U.S. sales up more than 21% in 2013 versus the year before. This year, however, sales have dropped off considerably. GM recently announced it will move Cadillac’s headquarters from Detroit to New York next year, in order to distinguish the brand from its parent and establish a better rapport with luxury buyers.

 

5. Lexus

Avg. age of buyer: 56.9 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 273,847

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 12.2%

 

Like several cars on this list, Lexus is both a luxury brand and a popular one among older car buyers. Lexus reported a 12.2% increase in U.S. sales last year from the year before, among the higher growth rates nationwide. However, Lexus — Japanese carmaker Toyota’s (NYSE: TM) premium brand — still trailed its German competitors in terms of worldwide market share and sales. Lexus also trails its German rivals in the U.S. as well. Lexus sold less than 275,000 vehicles in America last year, while German luxury brands such as BMW and Mercedes each sold well over 300,000 units.

 

6. Jaguar

Avg. age of buyer: 56.6 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 16,952

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 41.1%

 

Jaguar sales have grown considerably in recent years. The make sold nearly 17,000 cars in the U.S. last year, versus slightly more than 12,000 in 2012, a 41.1% increase and one of the largest sales increases nationwide. According to Kelley Blue Book’s Brauer, not only has Jaguar improved its product considerably, but it is also a classic luxury brand. Like other high-end makes reviewed, Jaguars are often quite expensive. Even the most affordable Jaguar starts at well over $50,000. Land Rover and Jaguar were combined into one company last year by their parent, Tata Motors. The average age of a Jaguar buyer, however, has changed little in recent years, remaining between 56 and 57 years old.

 

7. Bentley

Avg. age of buyer: 56.2 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 2,663

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 17.7%

 

Like many other car brands popular among older drivers, British brand Bentley is a luxury car maker. In fact, Bentley is considered part of the super-luxury class of cars, which includes vehicles that can a price tag exceeding $200,000. Considering how expensive Bentleys are, it is not particularly surprising that Bentley’s target clientele may require the greater part of a lifetime to build up the necessary resources to afford one. Bentley sold 2,663 cars in the U.S. last year, up 401 from the year before.

 

8. Smart

Avg. age of buyer: 55.3 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 9,264

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): -7.4%

 

An average Smart car buyer was 55.3 years old last year, 1.5 years older than in 2011. While Smart’s customers tend to be somewhat old, the make itself is relatively new, having entered the market only in the 1990s. Current models have the smallest dimensions of any car on the market and boast exceptional gas mileage. Each models gets well over 30 miles per gallon, and its electric drive model is capable of more than 120 miles per gallon. Smart prices are also low compared to other brands popular among older Americans. The pure coupe model, for example, starts at $13,270. While sales are modest, the brand’s U.S. sales rose dramatically between 2011 and 2012, from 5,348 to more than 10,000. Last year, however, the carmaker sold 745 fewer cars than it did the year before.

 

9. Chrysler

Avg. age of buyer: 54.7 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 302,492

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): -1.8%

 

While Chrysler buyers were among the nation’s oldest, they were also younger compared to previous years. The average age of a Chrysler buyer fell by 1.3 years between 2011 and last year, the only age decline for a brand on this list. Chrysler is also one of only three non-luxury makes with the oldest buyers. However, 2013 unit sales were lower than the year before, and brand’s sales were down 6% year-over year through September. Still, Chrysler’s pending merger with Italian carmaker Fiat may expand its capacity to build and market cars that attract younger buyers.

 

10. Mercedes-Benz

Avg. age of buyer: 54.6 years

2013 U.S. unit sales: 334,324

Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 13.3%

 

The average Mercedes-Benz customer was 54.6 years old last year, older than customers of all but nine other car makes. Like a majority of car makes with older buyers, Mercedes-Benz is a luxury brand. Older customers, who may often have more disposable income than younger consumers, likely have a greater ability to afford more expensive cars. Mercedes-Benz sales have been strong in recent years, rising every year from 2011 through 2013. Last year, the make sold more than 334,000 vehicles in the U.S., more than any other luxury car brand.

 

 

 


 

 

 

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Edited by Cmicasa the Great

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This was originally posted over at GMI, but I swiped it and brought it here for discussion. Interesting facts... and I suspect that the CLA and GLA are bringing Mercedes age demo down, furthermore it has to be pretty sick to a BEnz buyer to see that their so called "exclusive brand" is selling in numbers that pass Chrysler

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Exclusivity is a major component of a luxury item; and once that's gone, a major chunk of the 'luxury appeal' is also.

 

I find it bemusing that you still hear that old adage 'once Cadillac's older buyer die off, so will the brand' when mercedes is a razor thin (in terms of a car buyer's lifespan; 18-85) 5 years apart. Like anyone would call a 54 yr old man 'young' and a 59 yr old one 'old'. Such fallacy.  

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SUV's will always help to bring a Luxury makers age down. My feeling is that eventually the mass produced FWD appliances that MB and BMW are making will cause people to step back and say WOW, this is no different than a Chevy, Ford or Toyota. Bland cars and boring rides.

 

I saw yesterday a 128I or I128 BMW convertible and my wife asked me what the heck that ugly car was. I explained it to her and she said she would rather drive a Chevy or Dodge over that ugly auto. Yet even with that, the old guy driving it took off up the road fast as some younger kids were buzzing by in their tuned out asian cars and when we finally got up north on the freeway he was pulled over by the police. So I guess it does not matter which level of BMW you drive, they all are assholes

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Exclusivity is a major component of a luxury item; and once that's gone, a major chunk of the 'luxury appeal' is also.

 

I find it bemusing that you still hear that old adage 'once Cadillac's older buyer die off, so will the brand' when mercedes is a razor thin (in terms of a car buyer's lifespan; 18-85) 5 years apart. Like anyone would call a 54 yr old man 'young' and a 59 yr old one 'old'. Such fallacy.  

 

 

Yes.. It is the silliest thing I've ever heard. What makes it worse is that the Baby Boomers demographic is the richest demographic, but the media acts like those buyers something that should be abandoned. Watch Smk come in here and rejoice that Benz is of a lower age demo not ever commenting that the age demo is indicative of the lower offering Benz has over the higher. Look at CLA, GLA, GLK, C-Class, and M-Class to see my point

 

And before anyone says it.. When de Nysschen said that he was willing to lose certain customers he was referring to the BARGAIN buyer, not the age-income demo. 

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SUV's will always help to bring a Luxury makers age down. My feeling is that eventually the mass produced FWD appliances that MB and BMW are making will cause people to step back and say WOW, this is no different than a Chevy, Ford or Toyota. Bland cars and boring rides.

 

I saw yesterday a 128I or I128 BMW convertible and my wife asked me what the heck that ugly car was. I explained it to her and she said she would rather drive a Chevy or Dodge over that ugly auto. Yet even with that, the old guy driving it took off up the road fast as some younger kids were buzzing by in their tuned out asian cars and when we finally got up north on the freeway he was pulled over by the police. So I guess it does not matter which level of BMW you drive, they all are assholes

 

 

LOL!!! :rofl:  :rofl:  My GF saw the i3 and almost swerved off the road she said it was so ugly. I was reading in teh passenger seat and suddenly she jerks the steering wheel and says "WTF!!! Is that a BMW. Jesus that's Horrible"

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My only critique is that you left a 1, off of the 61 for Lincoln.   They by far seem to have the oldest demographic around here.  i have no plans to buy a luxury car, but this is interesting none the less.

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In general, spread of average age of buyers from lowest of 48 to highest of 61 is not a good sign of health of economy of this country. The purchasing power is hugely lop-sided.

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In general, spread of average age of buyers from lowest of 48 to highest of 61 is not a good sign of health of economy of this country. The purchasing power is hugely lop-sided.

 

 

By and large many see the late portion of Gen X as a failure, and by default Gen Y. First time in American history, if I'm correct, that one gen does not  do better than their predecessors. I blame it on liberal social programs in dealing with children and adolescents.

 

Spank your kids ladies and gents.. tease them and push them when they don't come in first place.. and speaking of which..  for GODSAKE.. stop giving trophies, awards, and certificates for dumb $hit like attendance or coming in last.  U'll either produce WINNERS or sociopaths. My hope is both, because that's what built this great country and made us #1  :wavey:

Edited by Cmicasa the Great

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Agreed, we need to stop all the socialist crap of having graduations for getting out of 5th grade, 6th grade etc. Stop saying everyone is a winner. Competition is and always will have winners and loser's. FACT!

 

We need generations that will compete to be the best not accept mediocrity of society and feel everyone should be the same. Communism and Socialism are failures. Hybrid is what it is as Pure capitalism also fails. Some safety nets are needed but short term and by all means knock off the you can live on the gov crap.

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Agreed, we need to stop all the socialist crap of having graduations for getting out of 5th grade, 6th grade etc. Stop saying everyone is a winner. Competition is and always will have winners and loser's. FACT!

 

We need generations that will compete to be the best not accept mediocrity of society and feel everyone should be the same. Communism and Socialism are failures. Hybrid is what it is as Pure capitalism also fails. Some safety nets are needs but short term and by all means knock off the you can live on the bov crap.

 

 

 

We think alike... we think a lot alike   29qnuaw.jpg

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Wow....

 

maybe if some of the older folks would shuffle off sooner and get out of the way instead of holding on to jobs into their 70s, the younger generations might have a chance?

Maybe if the younger generations weren't sold a bill of goods about how important it is to go into debt to get a good education, only to find that jobs once you got out of college (even good engineering jobs or software jobs) wouldn't pay the debt down.  Working through school and finishing in 4 years isn't an option anymore either because cost of living is so high while minimum wage is so low.

 

I have a good job and no school debt and I'm incredibly incredibly lucky for that.... but I still feel the absolute lack of opportunity out there to move up in any meaningful way in a "typical" career path.

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Wow....

 

maybe if some of the older folks would shuffle off sooner and get out of the way instead of holding on to jobs into their 70s, the younger generations might have a chance?

Maybe if the younger generations weren't sold a bill of goods about how important it is to go into debt to get a good education, only to find that jobs once you got out of college (even good engineering jobs or software jobs) wouldn't pay the debt down.  Working through school and finishing in 4 years isn't an option anymore either because cost of living is so high while minimum wage is so low.

 

I have a good job and no school debt and I'm incredibly incredibly lucky for that.... but I still feel the absolute lack of opportunity out there to move up in any meaningful way in a "typical" career path.

 

 

 

the reintro of Apprenticeships, bring even the most mundane manufacturing jobs, lose current ideas of entitlement and/or the idea of "that job is beneath me." 

 

Just saying.. there is something to bustin knuckles and actually, physically making stuff. I kno its cheaper to let the Asian countries make it.. until they learn how to not only sell it BACK to us, but eventually decide that they no longer need us to engineer it because they backwards engineered it.

 

:rofl:  .. Looking at office furniture made in China, with wood that came from Pennsylvania. :duh:

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Like that was the GenXer's or GenYer's decision to move production to China? That's all on the boomers.

 

 

Oh no I agree. But it is, or could be our decision to bring it back. Gen X includes our President (b. 1961) and many members of both houses of Congress.

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Gov't has been moving the retirement age UP, encouraging people to work longer. With health generally getting better (also via Gov't spending), what's the impetus to retire and do nothing when you still can, IF that's your choice? Because of a number? The picture for the age group just getting out of school will continue to constrict, IMO.

Apprenticeship-type education is an excellent, erroneously long-downplayed path, and I agree that it could have wide- & long-running positive impact on numerous fronts.

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I agree on the apprenticeship. As is so often the case, I refer back to Germany where they still do such a thing. 

 

I was talking about the age thing because it was brought up that GenXers and GenYers are accused by the older generations of not wanting to work.... well we do.... don't blame us for the lack of opportunities when the older generations are staying in their jobs 10-15 years longer than before.

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I side with Drew on the political stuff.  On the car buyer age issue, I am surprised Lincoln and Buick are that low, but the crossovers are probably helping keep the number near 60.  I bet if you polled sedan buyer age Lincoln and Buick would be near 70 with only the Lexus ES giving them a run for their money.

 

These are 2013 numbers too, so no GLA and only about a half a year of CLA sales.  Less than 10% of Mercedes sales last year were CLA, so it isn't like that is why they are at 54.  That had pretty much been their average for a long time, Mercedes builds luxury cars which have appeal to 50-somethings.  Audi and BMW I think are both in the 40s for average buyer age seeing as they build "sport sedans."

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most of the Verano drivers and probably all of the Regal drivers are much younger, so I guessing the bulk of the age comes from Lacrosse and Enclave.

 

Also, 2013 was a partial year for Encore, so I bet their overall ABA will continue to drop

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There is a sense of entitlement across the cross-section of the society. Not any exceptions to Generation Z, Y, X, W, etc.

 

I had a friend tell me that after he came back from Vietnam in 71 at an age of 23, bought himself a good used two year old Corvette 427 from the money he had saved while serving. Can a modern day GI do that with a Z-06?

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^ Lessee.

'69 Corvette coupe was $4781, 390 HP 427 was $221, that's $5002. Let's say new this car was $5250.

Let's just say that at 2 yrs old, that 5250 was now 4250, just for conversation's sake.

 

Via an online inflation calculator, that $4250 in 1971 would be $24,121 in 2013.

 

A bit removed from $78,995.

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A bit removed from $60,000. :)

 

Also, a wage comparison would be worthwhile.

 

You just asserted the fact that commodity price AND wages are playing a critical factor in the purchasing power.

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Lets also start with the failure of Colleges both private and Public. When did the president of the college and the football couch be worth millions a year and outrageous cost of college. Make college football tickets pay for all staff salaries and football scholarships. Stop making the regular college person pay for these over rated over paid people.

 

Get College right sided as to the real cost for an education and stop wasting money on sports and social do goody crap. We need people educated in the sciences, engineering, medical etc.

 

Not everyone is also cut out for College and in this case a better way would be trade school. We need to be having the career resource centers in middle and high school talking to kids about the choices of college education or trade school. Internships / Apprenticeships are very solid career choices. End result is that you cannot live on a High school education or lack of one. Everyone should always be going onto college, trade school or Apprenticeships.

 

In response to those that think minimum wage should be $15 hr. Wake up you are creating artificial Inflation! There is no real world living wage. Entry level wage is to allow young inexperienced people to get a job, prove themselves and move up to better paying jobs.

 

BACK ON SUBJECT - AGE!

 

I plan to work till 70 and beyond, I see no reason to retire and do nothing. Today's cost does not really allow it except for those in the top 10% bracket. As such, working today and 24 years from now could be totally different. I do not expect to need my current job, but that does not mean I do not have knowledge that can be passed onto others by working in a lower paying job helping others to gain skills to grow their career. Retirement also does not mean to do nothing. Many things can be done to stay mentally alert and physically fit while working and helping others.

 

AGE and AUTO's. - I am probably going to ruffle a few feathers as I do believe a car company can get people in at the low end and eventually grow them into higher level auto's.

 

A car line can have a customer base that covers from 20's to 70's, but they need to have clear division of style and marketing.

 

25 - 35 year old

36 - 55 year old

56 - 65 year old

66 and above

 

This is how I see the age areas based on your first group usually being single, then married and starting families, established families and then back to empty nest group. Our activities and things we do change so I feel design style, marketing, etc needs to be adjusted for each group. Current Marketing by car companies STINKS! They do group bulk marketing trying to gather everyone and they ignore that we are all at different stages in our lives.

 

Be it Cadillac, Buick, Chevy or GMC. They need to market to the stages people are at in life and realize that some times we go up to a certain need of vehicle and then back down to a simpler choice and that can also include going from gerneral style of car, suv or truck to luxury and back again.

 

If GM wants to market their 4 product lines across everyone, then they need to realize that the products need to stay in select areas.

 

Chevy, Singles and familes and workers needing a work truck

GMC, singles, families wanting a more luxury version than Chevy.

Buick mid luxury for more successful singles and established families who want a bit more luxury.

Cadillac, singles, families who want the best and can afford it. People who also have grown their career and want to make a statement.

 

I am sure if I thought on this more I could define it even better, but GM needs to get with a better marketing program and show the way or plan to go with reducing name plates and do it all within a single family product line.

 

Example China Gets Buick for entry to mid luxury and Cadillac as the top of the line.

US get Chevy for entry to mid luxury with Cadillac as the top of the line.

Europe gets Opal for Entry to Mid Luxury and Cadillac as the top of the line.

 

GM could save millions if not billions by simplifying their product line and showing people a quality product line to enjoy.

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One in every 5 GMCs sold is a Denali model.

Close to 50% of GMC Yukons sold is a Denali

35% of Sierras sold are Denalis.

 

GMC alone outsells VW, Audi, Chrysler, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes.

Denali trims alone outsell all of Land Rover.

 

GMC and Denali are huge profit centers for GM.

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