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It looks like auto makers have a problem beyond the current state of the economy: Generation Y is pretty disinterested in cars and in buying vehicles and has a penchant for connected gadgets instead of vehicles. Why? The recession and increased concern over the environment are keeping teens and young adults from rushing to get their driver's license and purchasing their first vehicle. With a lot of young people unemployed and many parents facing economic hardships, the cost of car ownership is simply unaffordable. Also, nowadays, the general population is more aware of the impact of driving on the environment. Further, as we previously mentioned, in his study called 'Pink' Chris Bangle, a former BMW employee who worked on the GINA Light Visionary Model, learned that these teens and young adults believe that future products should, "have an identity, it should only be there when you need it and it should be for sharing and bringing people together." How does a purchased vehicle fit within these parameters? It doesn't. An electric vehicle in a car sharing program, though, does.

To appeal to Gen Y, some automakers are trying to capitalize on their love of gadgets. Ford's new Fiesta, apart from being rated at 40 miles per gallon highway, also includes the latest technology such as audible text messages. Then there are the plug-ins like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. These electric vehicles are a bit closer to the battery-powered gadgets Gen Y owns while also having less impact on the environment and their pockets (due to lower cost of driving). Throw in a car-sharing opportunity and you've got a way to get young people interested. Still, Dave Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, believes that this young generation may only be delaying purchasing a vehicle and will inevitably buy one because it's a necessity. He told MSN, "The dependence on personal transportation in this country, outside of major urban areas, is still pretty profound, so there's really no alternative." Is the energy source all we can change?

[Source: MSN]


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  • 25 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      It depends what part of the country you're from. Here in the Dakotas and most other places in the midwest, a car is a basic necessity unless you live in a big enough city that the mass transit actually can get you where you need to go. At 29 I'm either an old Gen-Y or a young Gen-X but I own 4 vehicles right now. (I could live without 3 of them, but then I'd be driving my 4x4 pickup year-round instead of one of the cars or the motorbike, and that's just not fun.)

      I don't even see my area moving away from liquid fuels of some form in any kind of short term. I went to college only 84 miles from home, but that's still far enough that I would have had range anxiety if I'd been driving a Leaf for my every-few-weeks visits back home.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A young person who does not buy a car and instead puts their earning (or takes on debt) for education or real estate will be much farther ahead financially than their peers 20 years from now. About the stupidest thing a 20 something can do is buy a new $30k vehicle unless it is for their business or something else essential.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mopeds are probably on their shopping list. They can't afford a $45,000 compact car Chevrolet Volt.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The recession and increased concern over the environment are keeping teens and young adults from rushing to get their driver's license and purchasing their first vehicle."

      I disagree. The reason many Gen Yers aren't rushing to get their licenses is social. For those of us of a certain age who grew up without PCs, cell phones, twitter etc. The car was our social network. It was how you connected with your friends, you actually left the house (shocking I know) and met up with people. Yes, we did that before Foursquare. Even if you where not a car guy/gal you wanted a car as away to connect with your peer group. Now you don't need a car to connect with your "friends", with a cell phone or computer you can tell your friends all about your day without actually talking to them. Parents these days cart our kids around to all their events, I am guilty of this myself. I got my learners permit the day I turned 16, and my license the day I turned 17. I wanted to be independent, now a days we drop our kids at the mall or friends houses, and pick them up later and it's no big thing. To my peer group, being dropped off by your mom was NOT something you aspired to. I think Ford is on the right track, make the car a part of their connected world.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're probably correct, but I think the economics play a hand as well. It's all a moot point though, because as we recovery from the recession and those teens become young adults and get jobs, their going to need a way to get to and from the job - and hence will need to get a car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Absolutely.

        Gen Y doesn't want to go to their friends house to play Nintendo, they want to sit in their own home playing Halo online. Gen Y doesn't want to take a road trip to see America, they want to explore fantasy realms in World of Warcraft.

        I sound like an old fogey. I love technology. But there's something wrong when people call someone a "friend" who they've never met, or consider something they've done in a video game to be an "achievement".
        • 4 Years Ago
        EXACTLY. I could go on and on about this, like probably most of us can; for crying out loud, kids don't even want to move out on their own these days because that would mean getting a job and being responsible.

        Our parents probably said the same thing about us but this time it's really true.
        • 4 Years Ago
        In the city the car is not needed since it is so hard today to find free parking, and you can use your bike to get anywhere superfast.

        So for short distances, like a few kilometers, bike is king.

        For big distances like 300km, 400km or more the car is useless since it is a pain in the ass to be drinving for so long.

        That leaves us a segment where the car is the fastest and best alternative overall which is 7km-350km.

        So it depends how much you move in that range. If you do it every day, maybe you need a car. If not, I am sure you can live without a car.

        I have done calculations, and for me, it is cheaper to use a taxi or rent a car every time I am on a rush instead of owning a car.
        If I am not a rush I can always get public transport which is very cheap.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Stew: what jobs?

        I moved out when i was 18 ( i'm 28 now ) and did exactly that, i started working minimum wage jobs in California and barely scraped by at all times. No financial support from my parents whatsoever.

        It was only until i was about 25 until i was able to support myself and have some extra money to spend. I gradually worked my way up to $13/hr. types of jobs.

        When i turned 27 i was able to support myself enough to go to college. Then i lost the cushy job and can't go to college any more.

        Leaving the house at 18 is no longer an option for most unless you have well to do parents who will pay your rent and school.

        Face it, the cost of everything has risen. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is easier said than done. I did it but everyone else around me had the silver spoon in their mouth. At almost 30 years old, i am about at where a 23 year old middle class raised adult is financially.

        That's what 'getting out of the house and getting a job' at a young age gets you these days.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Throwbak is right.

        Also, recession is making people work more at home.
        For example, my wife and I work at home and we live in the center of a city, so we do not need any cars.
        More and more people will work at home, either by working for themselves, or working for others.

        Also, the cost of owning a new car is very high, and some people do not want to have old cars. Add the uncertainty of gas prices and you have the perfecto cocktel for NOT owning a car
      • 4 Years Ago
      Reading all these replies I just realized that when the ricers of the 1995 to 2005 era went away the next generation did not take up the mantle. I think cars are seen as more utilitarian by this new generation and not as much a source of status. Of course the autocrossers and other subcultures still exist but they are mostly on the fringe. Also in the last few years there are many more kids cycling to work and school. They are still mostly disinterested in public transportation, but living in an urban area allows them to walk or bike most places so why bother with a car. At our university on campus parking is very expensive as an annual pass can cost almost as much as a $1000 beater.

      I also think graduated licensing has put a damper on thing as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I blame the recession. People want the most convenient thing, period. Public transportation in a lot of areas is laughable.. The USA is very spread out in general.. and with few bike lanes. But, with the increasing cost of living in the United States, owning a car looks more like a last resort than a first option.

      Who's got a couple hundred bucks to throw around on a car every month these days? the numbers of such people are declining.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Speaking for Gen-Y, I don't believe this study at all. It sounds like someone put out a survey and drew conclusions from it.

      Gen-Y still loves cars, the only thing that has changed is they aren't as into old muscle cars. However, with the recession they can't afford new ones. All their money is going to rent, taxes, and student loans. There isn't much left over for a new 30-50k car...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Renting a car near my place only costs almost the same as the ownership of a car. How can that be that way?
        Also, every time you rent a car, you rent a new one. If you own a car you will have a kinda old car in some years.

        I did not know that renting a car was so cheap. If I do not pay for an all-risk insurance, it is even CHEAPER to rent a car on a daily basis that to buy it (???).

        Of course, this is because of many things, including the costs of the bank lending at a 7% rate more or less.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, but evidently Generation Y is still in college.

        Just like it was 15 years ago when the term "Generation Y" was coined to describe the generation that came after the generation named "Generation X", or the children of the baby boomers.

        I'm apparently either at the tail-end of "Generation X" or the beginning of "Generation Y". I'm 35. Yet the press is still calling "People between the age of 25 and 35", "Generation X" and "People between the age of 17 ant 25", "Generation Y".

        And Baby Boomers are somehow still between the age of 35 and 45, in spite of the fact that most of those who were born in the late 1940's and early-mid 1950's are now retiring or already retired.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just buy a few ounces of gold. In a couple months you will be able to buy an EV for everyone in your family.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ernie, you go down to VBCE today and get yourself some gold, Pender and Howe. Gold isn't in a bubble. It has been in an inverse bubble for the last 30 years because the US government has been suppressing it that long so that people lose confidence in it as a store of wealth and instead use the phony paper dollars our governments throw around. But now, the US financial system is falling apart and will crash and burn within a year or two (the Euro may go quite soon, and that might be the trigger that collapses the entire world financial system into oblivion). Through free market forces gold should be in the $50,000-$100,000 range and that's what you can expect after the financial system collapses.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oops, that should have said years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Uh huh. Because there is no gold bubble, and its value will go up forever, right?

        I think you should consider this a "missed opportunity", rather than an investment opportunity.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No, plug-ins will not attract them. They don't think much of cars because they don't have the money. Plug-ins are even more expensive.

      Some of them will go for them though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this hit it right on the head in many ways. A lot of you older people love to trash us, we're lazy, we have no ambition, we expect the world to be given to us, etc etc. You would see that's TOTAL bullshit if you observed the ENTIRE group called generation Y. The most extreme cases (i.e. the video game/texting addict) are always the one's that make the most impact on our impressions so it's easy, or I can at least understand how you could come to this baseless conclusion. But okay, have you not ever been to a college campus? They're FULL if gen Y'ers that are working their asses off just to stay afloat right now in the hopes that it will one day pay off. Then upon graduation, we get to compete with all the 10-15 year career people who've been laid off and are in desperate need of a job to feed their families. Who do think that job is gonna go to?? As a generation Y'er that's taken on enough student loan debt to buy an new M3 I will say that I wouldn't trade it for that M3. Some of you really need to get a grip and realize times ARE harder than you had them. I'm finally getting my parents to realize this, or at least they've come to realize this is true in watching me struggle independently in a way that they never had to. Wake up to what this generation is really about. How many of you are taking time to invest in them? Mentoring, coaching, volunteering, etc.?? I bet not many of you that are on here spouting your ill informed, degrading opinions. Yes, there are PLENTY of us that don't have any drive, ambition, or goals but there are SO MANY MORE that DO!! The thing I always wonder is, how can the previous generations (our parents) talk down about our generation without realizing they MADE US?! Literally, and figuratively, we were guided and shaped into who we are by you guys! Any poor character traits observed about my generation is a direct reflection on the generation that was responsible in turning us into productive adults. So did you guys drop the ball??
      nuff on that though... this is about vehicles..

      I'm going to say that I definitely, definitely agree with the acknowledgement that our generation if finally coming to grips with the impact of car ownership on the environment. I haven't done this in years so I can't remember the exact number but I recommend you all take some type of ecological footprint assessment. You will be AMAZED by how much of an impact owning a vehicle, even the most "green" earth friendly one has on the environment. Pretty sure my numbers went from something like only needing .75 earths to support my lifestyle to needing 2.5 when I told it I own a (28 mpg) car. Above the environmental there is also a considerable human cost to driving a vehicle. One of these days I'm going to sit down and calculate how many people die/barrel of oil we consume as a nation (of course this will be a tiny number, but it doesn't go without saying PEOPLE ARE DYING TO GIVE US OIL). Nigerians,' and Iraquis' are especially vulnerable to this....I digress.. Maybe it's not even that fact that we're more concerned about the environment, but rather we are not as opposed to it as the older generations. So many in older generations live under a blanket and believe that anything having to do with environmental quality is hogwash and a waste of time. Although there are people of my age with this same view I guarantee they make up much less of a percentage in our generation than those past. The world is becoming more urbanized and with that we've been able to take advantage of alternative transportation methods. Even in OKC, judged as the worst, or second to worst metro area to get around in something other than a car I can still pay $40/month and have unlimited access to a bus system that covers over 200 sq. miles. Speaking from personal experience, it only gets better for you guys living on the east and west coasts!! So, yeah we're not going to be AS gung-ho about personal vehicle ownership, its really EXPENSIVE, traffic in our major cities is a huge headache, and it's getting easier to not need one. I disagree with the article in saying we don't "care" about cars, we love the freedom and joy that comes from owning a vehicle just like anyone else, we're just finding ways to not need them.

      KUDOS gen Y!! Let's change this world for once!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the cost associated with owning a vehicle today is what really drives a lot of the younger generation away. When I was a kid you could buy a used car in reasonably good shape for a couple hundred bucks, insure it for less than $200, and register it for $5. Today it's tough to find a car for less than a grand, insurance costs thousands, and registration is $50. Essentially, what used to cost maybe $500 now costs over $5000. A kid who gets a part time job at 16 typically isn't able to afford a car by 17 on the money they make, at least not without a bit of help from their parents.

      Then one also has to take into account that kids today have a lot of other expensive things to spend money on. Computers, smart phones, video game systems, flat screen televisions, ipods, ect. They hunger for new technology. An old beat up car just doesn't hold their interest like a new car with all the fancy bells and whistles. Especially since, if they go to college, then they may not be able to use it for a year or two.

      Finally, as mentioned above, it's a lot easier to keep in contact today than it used to be. Kids no longer have to go see their friends in person as much as we used to. In fact, it's now possible to become friends with lots of different people without even ever having met them in person. Closest I ever came to that was a pen-pal in elementary school.

      All in all, I think you'll find that young people still do have an interest in cars. It's just a bit different than it used to be.

        • 4 Years Ago
        You're absolutely right.

        "These electric vehicles are a bit closer to the battery-powered gadgets Gen Y owns while also having less impact on the environment and their pockets (due to lower cost of driving)."

        Uhhhh wrong. The cost of ownership of a Volt or a Leaf is astronomically higher than the cost of ownership of an efficient used car or - *GASP* - a bus pass. If I had a magical car that filled it's own gas tank every morning and I ponied onto my parents insurance policy, just maintenance would be more than double a bus pass for me.

        Love cars, love independence, but I (almost unfortunately) know how to handle my money. The only way I'll buy a car is if I make enough that the cost of ownership of a car is negligible or if I have kids and move to the 'burbs and it's just required. Till then, I'll just keep reading ABG.

        As a side note - car sharing programs are a very attractive option, especially if living in an urban setting like I currently do/ plan to for a while.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Without any hard data on ownership, I have no idea how widespread this carless phenomenon is. In any event, I think sharing will become an increasing necessity in the coming years as the long term trend in the economy and the environment will be downward. My circumstances do not permit me to live in the city but if I did, rest assured that I would only be using my car to get out of the city.

      For my generation, cars represented freedom, mostly freedom to get into trouble as a teenager. Cars today are more of an albatross than a symbol of freedom. Hopefully, the future will be cities that are mostly car free, if not completely.
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