• Jul 23, 2010
We all remember our first car. There's nothing quite like the memory of seeing your parents hand you the keys to a vehicle you can call your own, and the experience has historically happened somewhere between a child's 16th and 18th year. Right?
Perhaps not. It seems that the time-honored act of buying your first new-to-you car in your teenage years is waning in popularity. And the same is also true of vehicles purchased from well-meaning parents for their children. According to CNW Marketing Research, in calendar year 2005, there were 7.5 million vehicles purchased by or for teens. In 2010, that number is expected to dwindle all the way down to 4.2 million.

Tellingly, this statistic is falling right alongside the flickering teen job market. CNW reports that 27 percent of all American teens have not worked full- or part-time so far this year, which is up dramatically from 2005. Not surprisingly, only 16 percent of teenagers that do happen to have their own set of wheels pay the full monthly payment themselves (that's down from 21 percent).

Transaction prices are also down, which has led to another intriguing bullet point: 57 percent of cars purchased by or for teens are from domestic automakers, due largely to the fact that American cars tend to be less expensive on the used market.

[CNW Marketing Research | Image: Getty]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think they may understimate the effect of:
      1, the increase in a lot of states of the driving age. To 16 1/2, for example. a 25% reduction in the 16-18 window they are studying...
      2, the relative decrease in "cache" that a car may have for this generation. Not having one can be a sign of green coolness.
      3, An increase in cars owned by parents but used by kids. A car owned by the teen primarily has higher insurance, so not buying them a car may be cheaper...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this has nothing to do with jobs and everything to do with the MySpace and Facebook generation simply not caring about vehicles.

      Growing up as a teen in the 90s (I graduated in 97), kids did not have much social interaction unless they got a ride somewhere or got their own car. I live in a rural area where walking anywhere was out of the question. Anyone without a car had getting one high on their priority list. A few people one of those BFFs that would pick you up anytime, anywhere, however that was rare. Having the car meant you could go out and do things and hang out without everyone else. Literally *everyone* I knew in high school was pining to get a car unless they already had one

      Now I have some cousins going to the same school and I have been by there a few times. The once full student parking lot is half empty. Once everyone gets out of school, 90% of the kids are face first in a cell phone text. None of my cousins are motivated to get jobs because they don't really need a car when they are busy sending ~2000 text messages a month and staring at their computer screen anytime possible. These are not kids unable to get jobs, these are kids that do not even want jobs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wouldn't say computers are the biggest cause. I have had my current job for three years. Before this, I had a stint at a local pizza place for a couple months. Between that job and my current job, there was a year gap where I didn't work.

        Why? Even then it was difficult to find a job. Most places wanted experience. Even McDonald's wouldn't take me. And considering I haven't looked in a newspaper for a while, I'm thinking a lot of places still want people with some kind of experience....which ADULTS have. Seeing as unemployment is still up (especially here in Michigan), they are the ones taking the jobs. The workers at a local McDonald's were all over the age of (I would have to estimate) 35.

        Computers were big when I graduated high school (03) but even then, everyone wanted to make money and go to school. Even my younger cousins (early to mid teens) are out doing odd jobs. I mowed a couple lawns throughout HS but that was because my parents pressured me to concentrate on school.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So the story is.....people without jobs aren't buying cars..and some of them are teenagers. OK, thanks for the critical update.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't get the hate against teenage drivers, are we THAT bad?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The last tidbit is kinda obvious. As teenager, I had 2 car lists. One list was the dream cars or partially realistic cars that I would love to own. The other list was the cars I could actually afford to buy and maintain at the time. Bought a used Camry that served the family well for 17 years without any mayor issues aside from the typical maintenance stuff. And conveniently enough, all the parts that I needed to buy were always easy to find and not expensive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL @ Gruv. Thank you for that.

        Camry's are great... for people who hate cars. That are marginably more reliable and very inexpensive. You can run them into dirt as above user did getting exceptional value, or for the rest of us who see a car as more than a means of transportation, one could pick up an older pre-owned 3-Series, A4, GTI.. etc. Not only are these vehicles safter, but if you maintain them correctly they will last just as long as the toyota (if not longer), please the driver infinitely more over their lifetime, and actually be worth something when you get rid of it.

        I sold my 2001 330i 5-speed for $5000... with 224,000 miles on it. A Camry isn't worth 5 grand at 100k.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What's wrong with a Camry? If you can drive a car that long and save up for one you really want, power to ya.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah..... but you were driving a camry. Life is short. Drive something worth driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @trustedcarsalesman:

        "I sold my 2001 330i 5-speed for $5000... with 224,000 miles on it. A Camry isn't worth 5 grand at 100k."


        Maybe but the cost of replacing a major part on the 330i is way beyond the cost of the Camry. Unless you are mechanically-inclined (which nowadays most teenagers are not) and know how to source parts, the maintenance in a 10 year old 330i will break the wallet (BMW-Broke My Wallet), of most teenagers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When I was a teenager, if I hadn't had a car, I wouldn't have had to work. Most of the money earned in the job went into gas and insurance. I would suspect that some kids today figured this out. Also, for better or worse, even in better economic times having a job as a teenager seems less prevalent than in other generations, although I'm sure it depends on your class background. College admissions is more competitive, so a lot of kids spend a lot more time doing academic work and doing anything that enhances their application prospects.
      • 4 Years Ago
      ...and in other news the sky is blue

      • 4 Years Ago
      Good, I guess?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, maybe our insurance rates will go down ... HAH! Yeah right, insurance companies LOWERING a rate! Why would they do that, they've got a great racketeering operation going on with the government.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i want to get paid to "study" obvious crap like this
      • 4 Years Ago
      I had a car when I was a teenager, but not until I turned 17, which was a $900 88 Honda Prelude. I put blood, sweat, and tears into that thing. I did work though since that was the ONLY way I was getting to work. Driving mom's Jaguar to work was NOT an option.

      Now, at 26, I think I had more fun driving as a teenager because I didn't have a $600+ car note.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Both my husband and I didn't get our license until we were 18 yrs old. Neither of us had any place to go that required lots of driving, and neither of us owned a car. If we really wanted to go some place far, we'd simply ask our parents to take us. In all other instances we just road our bikes.

      My husband's first car was a Plymouth Relient '85. His Dad and Grandma bought it for him for just over 1K. He would have bought it himself, but he couldn't afford to without having a job. Which he couldn't get without having a car. And the whole reason he needed a job was so he could work his way through college. So family stepped in to help. :)

      I, on the other, never bothered going even that far. My parents had 3 cars (a Volvo Stationwagon, a Ford Van, and a Buick), the Buick they inherited. That's what I drove around until I married and moved out. Now my sister is driving the same car to get to college. Why buy a car when you can borrow one from your parents? (This is, of course, assuming you still LIVE with your parents.)

      And if technology is keeping kids off the road, than GOOD. Most of them shouldn't be driving to begin with! Let them stay home and chat and play games online with their friends. They're being just as social--if not more so in some cases--using technology to stay in contact than driving to where ever and hanging out. At least with computers and cell phones they aren't likely to kill anyone.

      (Though I doubt it's got anything to do with computers and what not. Teens need money to own a car just as much as an adult. If they can't find a high enough paying job, they can't buy. Simple as that.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure having a computer strapped to your face all the time makes the want to drive a lot less too, which is a shame.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ^^good for you. Here is your imaginary cookie.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ^^ if you don't mind me asking what is a car note?
        • 4 Years Ago
        When I was 16 I did not know anybody in a new car, nor did I know anybody making payments on a used car. We all drove beaters, except me. I drove a 68 Charger, which I paid for by working 2 jobs the previous 2 summers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think he's got a pretty good point here with the computer thing actually. With myspace/facebook/aim/videochats along with texting and even just cell phones in general teens have a lot less reason to get out of the house to talk to friends. Remember 15 years ago when it was a big deal for a kid to get their own phone line? Now every kid has their own phone line 24/7. Then there's the 800 cable channels, multiplayer videogames that you can play online instead of having to go to a friends house, movies streaming straight to your tv, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Obviously people here like and want to drive cars.

        I'd like to borrow from "snark mcgee" from below:

        http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/never_mind_the_prius_the_new_c.html

        "Never mind the Prius – the new chic is going car-free entirely"

        Ask how many kids under 18 can drive manual, its a sad statistic.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Hardly.

        What a false and pathetic statistic
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Ask how many kids under 18 can drive manual, its a sad statistic."
        Oh give me a break, you can learn to drive stick in a single day (well enough to drive around town) and get pretty good in a week. Enough of this silliness of hyping it like some arcane art-if you can have enough coordination to drive an automatic you'll figure out how to drive stick after enough stalls.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Gruv

        I hear ya, man. I still drive a beater and I love it. I've had the car since I was 15 and now I'm 26. Best part? No car note. People always asked me if I was gonna buy a new car after college and I said nope. That would be pointless. I graduate college to make more money. How would buying a new car(300 dollars on average+insurance) help me? I love cars and love talking about them and look at them. But when it comes to buying its hard to beat no car note.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That is true young teens nowadays spent too much time in front of Computer, TV and if they don't have to go out and work full time or part time another reason they don't need to go out of the house.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ^^^ your name is an oxymoron. I learned that in grade 9.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oh no Autoblog makes me want to drive more :-)
    • Load More Comments