Study: Millennials Have Less Interest in Cars

Teens Teens and young adults, frequently referred to as “Generation Y” or “Millennials,” have far less of an interest in owning a car than previous generations according to a study of their conversations on Twitter, Facebook and other blogs by J.D. Power & Associates.

First off, let me say, “Uh, creepy study, J.D. Power.”

Let’s think about what this means: After researching hundreds of thousands of online conversations, the market research firm concluded that the chatter on personal blogs, social networks and car-related websites (like KickingTires) pointed to a slumping interest in the auto industry as well as a slumping interest in specific brands. This research incorporated those born in the 1980s and early 90s who are now teenagers (12 to 18), college students and young professionals (22 to 29).

“Online discussions by teens indicate shifts in perceptions regarding the necessity of and desire to have cars,” read J.D. Power’s conclusion.

They cite several factors for this including the current recession, which has perhaps made the cost of owning a car prohibitively expensive for some, as well as the influence of social media itself.

“With the advent of social media and other forms of electronic communities,” the study said, “teens perceive less of a need to physically congregate, and less of a need for a mode of transportation.”

As a member splat in the middle of the demographic J.D. Power is talking about, I’d say that these two explanations sound like the glib explanations of 45-year-old market researchers. The fact is that the world in which we have come of age is a lot different than the cheap-gas, car-crazed one our parents and older siblings grew up in.

We’ve seen a war in which petroleum played a major — if not preeminent — role, a gas crisis that more or less proved oil is not the endless commodity we’ve been treating it as, and a growing climate crisis that casts grave doubts about our automobile-heavy transportation system. [Or it could be the fact that your generation grew up in an SUV-dominated era, absent of exciting muscle cars, -ed.]

I’m not saying this is how every Millennial thinks or feels, but the political and environmental ramifications of a car-heavy lifestyle definitely play a far larger role in this trend than a recession that only accounts for 1/29 of some of our lives or the ability to Twitter a friend.

As for how the auto industry will greet this news, they can look to Japan, which was the first developed country to see a decline in car ownership, especially in crowded urban areas. Of course, as the study also cites, the automotive world has China with its 1.3 billion people who “are simply wild about cars.”

Rebel Without a Car? (Los Angeles Times)

By Stephen Markley | October 9, 2009 | Comments (14)
Tags: In The News

Comments 

Dan

Truly the end of America as we know it... :)

But it actually is a sad sign. While it is true that fewer are driving, many more simply do see cars as a tool to get from point A to point B, and don't really care about connectivity with the road, communication with the machine, driving dynamics, or anything else that enthusiasts like most of us here on this site are really into. (no matter which side of the flame wars you're on)

As the mass market consumers cease to care about these things and only care for inexpense, reliability, and possibly comfort, the automakers that cater to the broad market will stop caring as well, and tailor cars to meet the desires of the younger generation. That means that the truly great automobiles out there, the ones that people keep forever and maintain and restore because you simply love them, will only be made in smaller shops, or in smaller numbers and will therefore be expensive to buy, difficult to find a shop to work on, and developed by less seasoned engineers.
While we all want an inexpensive and reliable car, no auto enthusiast drools over a Corolla. However, as that becomes more and more the standard for what the market wants, the 370Z's, Corvette's, and GTI's of the world will start to disappear. These cars embodied dreams and raw desires. They play to something illogical, but fundamentally human. The loss of these in the market is like loss of art. When we don't take interest in automobiles, they will cease to become a vessel to escape the gray, boring, featureless world we are increasingly building. They will become yet another tool in our march to become automatons, simple units of labor used to generate wealth and never experiencing all that the world can be.

roger

I agree with this finding. As a college student, i would rather put my "$1000" into my education than putting it into car insurance. it just makes sense!I'm in my early 20's and I am actually in the process of giving up my car. I prefer to bike and or use public transportation. Its more economical and it is environmentally friendly!

Dee

*Applause* Bravo Dan!

Tony

American car culture is false and should die.

Mike

I'm 22 and I find my peers who have cars know nothing about them; the ones that have impressive or great cars are rich and stupid, and the ones without any vehicle laugh at us paying gas, insurance, maintenance, and tolls.

Cry me a river pops, it'll be the same situation when we "generation Y" lament the rise of hover cars over cars that actually drive on land; ho hum go back to your job and keeping paying those bills.

Peppy

as a college student (19) I've been around cars my whole life and is in mech. engineering. My friends have this joke with me "You would rather spend $100 on your car than spend $40 for nice shoes" Its so right. I'm good with my money but the day I stop spending money on my cars is the day the world will stand still.

FlanKitty

guess they forgot me when they were snooping around looking at peoples tweets :p

only thing holding me back from pouncing on new wheels is the job market (and the cars i want to test drive aren't out yet)

Do they even have a control for the "normal" level of young adults' car interest? This "study" is looking more and more flawed the more I look at it.

SG

I, myself being of the Millenials(17), Love cars. Thanks to my dad i have had an ever increasing interest in cars. I will say this, cars these days arent truely cars, they're computers. And we all know computers have their faults and are very mind-boggleing to fix. Thats why the most technological car I myself am inclined to buy would be a first gen Lexus. I will stay faithful to the true cars of the like of the VW Scirroco, older Porsches, and basically anything older than I. Something that you can fix yourself and not need to hook up to a computer.

Being a resident in Japan (Yokosuka USNB), its easy to see the correlation between ways of transportation. Cars are already as small as can be, yet its way more economical to use public transport or bicycles due to costly gas prices and laws on automobiles.

Cars back then were probably the most technological devices available, nowadays computers are. So the following of whats new and tech-savvy probably has a major cause in this.

My thoughts on the main reason however is this. The push for success in Society. many Millennials face pressure to their studies that they consume them, allowing no time for such hobbies like cars. they find no need, they think of cars as an appliance like a microwave. If it breaks by a new one, no need in fixing it.

There will always be a car culture in every generation, but as each passes the fewer they are to become.

Nelson Lu

As a member of Generation X -- 1/2 to 1 generation older than the generation being surveyed -- I will say this:

I enjoy driving. I enjoy the driving experience, and I enjoy going places in my car.

And given that what I enjoy is driving itself, I do *not* enjoy spending excessive amount of money or time on gas, maintenance, and modifications. I also do not enjoy driving or being driven in a car that is uncomfortable or unsafe.

That's why I find the comments above by the self-acclaimed "car enthusiasts" astounding. You have put the cart before the horse -- or, perhaps given the scenario presented here, put the locomotive ahead of the locomotion. What is the point of a car if it is prohibitive expensive to drive, such that it can't get reasonably you places that you would want to see. Is it really about the driving, or is it more about making noise and having shiny toys?

DodgeFan

Slight older than age groups by 2 years. But can say I enjoy driving. Althought I probably never be able to afford the 'sport cars' previous generation could. Blame it on the downward pressure of wages. Thats the real shame, make fun life giving vehicles to expense to own or drivem except for the rich. As a hobby most cars are to expensive to work on, and it is no longer easy too. I am not talking about oil changes, air filer, or brakes. If breaks get a new one comment does not work with cars. Only people who have never owned a car think that. But I know where the poster was going with the comment. Unfortunately, Americas too big compared to Europe. We passed a Crossroads along time ago to develop a public transportation system properly. Only big cities can do that.

SG

I would not mind owning any car, may it be a 97 Saturn or a brand new Subaru Outback i would be glad to have. I would even be happy with a nice Volvo. I myself am not into extreme modifications, but keeping a car clean and personal. The reason why i stated the VW/Porsches are because they are enthusiast cars, something you can have fun with.

just to clarify the "buy a new one" statement, i live on a military base overseas. cars are desposable here, and anything over $3000 is expensive. so owning a car here is like that. so you buy not necessarily "new", just another. the base parking lots are basically filled with early 90s Skylines, Odysseys, Estimas, and RVRs.

Jon

If IKEA made a build-it-yourself car that ran on burrito wrappers then millenials like myself might be interested. Until then, I will take the reliability, affordability, eco-friendly, healthy way to get around my city. Also, to debunk the rumors that millenials are too poor to own cars, that's just wrong. I'm doing quite well, and i'm not alone thankyouverymuch.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App
Ask.cars.com