Generation Y Buying Fewer Cars, Driving Less

Echo Boomers, aka Generation Y, are the latest group of Americans to enter the work force. With new careers comes financial independence, which used to mean buying a car, but for the latest generation of Americans that doesn’t seem to be the case.

According to, fewer Generation Yers, who are 21 to 30 years old, are buying cars. They’re also driving less. Generation Y motorists make up only 14% of the miles driven in the U.S., which is down from 21% of total miles driven by the previous generation in 1995.

This is not because Generation Y is smaller than Generation X. To the contrary, Generation Y is the largest generation of people in U.S. history, with some 80 million of them.

So what gives?

According to Kiplinger, the group is more accustomed to using public transportation or car-sharing services, like Zipcar, than older Americans.

Generation Yers don’t see cars as mobile sex symbols that past generations did, either. The latest iPhone, music or software garners more attention than cars for many young folk. This generation is also more likely to see cars as damaging the environment. In most states, the road to driving takes longer now with graduated driver’s licenses. That means it takes longer for new drivers to drive independently, as well.

Kiplinger’s argument coincides with an earlier study we covered from J.D. Power & Associates, in which Echo Boomers were showing less interest in owning cars than previous generations.

That study citied the recession as a possible reason for the drop in driving and car ownership.

After all, many recent college grads may still be without a job after searching for close to a year, or they’re going back to school for secondary degrees. That’s hardly a situation where getting a new car makes sense.

Generation Y Giving Cars a Pass (

By Colin Bird | September 23, 2010 | Comments (24)
Tags: In The News



finally American car culture dies off.
I can see the difference. I wanted a car, badly. My son - he doesn't care. As long as he gets where he needs, he is OK, even better if I drive so he can play with his iPhone


Is he driving? He belongs to jail than


Who don't want a car? Don't be kindding!

Look at the scale of poverty . Because Gen Y is poorer , quite of some of them can affort a car, period.


Who don't want a car? Don't be kindding!

Look at the scale of national poverty . It is quite clear that because Gen Y is poorer , quite some of them can't affort a car now, period.


I sure hope this trend continues...less cars, more mass transit. My son is 17 and doesn't really care about cars - especially new cars.


I've noticed this trend significantly where I live. I'm just barely out of that generation (age 34) and I am moving in a week to a location where I will be able to bike or walk to work, shop, etc., and pretty much anything else will be accessible with public transit.

I will keep my car for longer trips, but instead of replacing it every 5 years like I've done for the last 15 years that I've had a 70-mile daily commute, I'm hanging on to it for an additional 5.

The carmakers need to wake up to this reality NOW instead of waiting to react like they've always done. They need to diversify and expand their operations in areas related to public transit - be PROACTIVE now.

I love cars and love to drive, but would gladly get rid of my car completely if it were practical.


I'm a financial planner and can tell you that qdp is right on the money (no pun intended). Gen Y does not have the income that previous generations had and that's why car sales specific to their demographic are down. When I meet with a Gen Y client with a decent income buying their dream car is always one of their goals. With the way this administration is handling the economy I can next see Gen Y giving up aspirations of home ownership.


It is not just this administration. It is all previous administrations.
Be realistic. What we had in 2008 is direct result of Clinton's actions and that idiot Grinspan.
Until we'll get our government to work for us, it wouldn't be matter which administration. But it seem, they do what they want over there, like starting wars no one need, etc.

someone said that car will destroy America. And it is true. Thanks to cars, we live in suburbs where we use times and times more energy that we would use if we lived in cities. We consume way more then we should and we are not on a good path. This can't last forever.

Doug Jones

Politicians by and far are mostly scum but the fact of the matter is under the previous administration there were 8.5 Million more jobs. When people are employed they have money to buy things like cars. Unfortunately Gen Y will not have the same opportunities that other generations had especially when the true unemployment rate is closer to 16-17%. In the meantime we can all dream by reading daily.


we're going to have more jobs that you think. When baby boomers die off we'll have positions we can't fill. Ewen today unemployment would be less but nobody wants to work as skilled worker for $15 per hour. We see people making $100K and CEOs making millions, nobody wants to be blue color. Hunger would of cured the issue but current administration feeds lazy butts. They don't understand that it is like Darwin said, strongest wins. Somebody got to step level down. If we will not allow illegals here, who is going to cut your lawn or $5/hour? We want to compete with the world? - abandon minimum wage. Jobs will go elsewhere if elsewhere they can pay less. So, on one side they want to be global (good for corporations and consumers) but on the other side they want to be local (make it look like it is good for workers) with minimum wages. global wins.
They should abandon WTO and not listen to corporations. We are leaking technologies and research straight into hands of our enemies. Our government grew China. Now China developing weapons which will render our aircraft carriers useless. Nuf said


I sincerely hope that your comments here were written either out of ignorance or jest.

You suggest in your post that if our government administrators ceased feeding the impoverished of our nation, it would eliminate our current economic problems via what you misguidedly refer to as natural selection. I find this strikingly similar to the eugenics ideas promoted by the Third Reich and others, in which Darwinism is used to justify preconceived ideas of "fitness" -- be it ethnic, health-related, economic, or otherwise. You may not realize it, but you are suggesting some very dangerous things.

Jason R

My wife and I are 25 and 24, and we only drive one vehicle (2010 Subaru Outback). We actually have okay jobs and make over $100,000 a year, there's just no need for two vehicles. I see my 40-year-old neighbor's Chevrolet Tahoe and what pops into my mind is "$700/month car payment." I really don't want that to be me in 10 years; I'll keep the $300/month difference and my kid will get it for college. Maybe Gen Y is shiftless and lazy, but such behaviors are teaching/forcing many of us that we don't need as many material goods as prior generations to make us happy; it's changing our priorities. If one wants to go to art school, go ahead--it will probably leave you economically lacking for a while, but it will make you so many more kinds of happy than a Range Rover in the driveway ever could.

Thomas R

A Range Rover in the driveway would make A LOT more people happy than attending "Art" school. Then again "Art" school is necessary for folks who want to avoid competing in the real world. The real world where Range Rovers are given to ones self as a reward for working hard and being successful.


Mike B,

exactly! If our government will continue what it does now, a strong nationalistic group, like a tea party will rise and in the name of "good for america" they will do things that you're talking about.


Thomas R.,

It just goes to show how materialistic and uncreative you are. Way to impress.

Isn't it amazing how in every article about the letter X, we have folks bringing up subjects about the number 2; non only demonstrating a warped mindset in espousing to link the two, but also in the very point of view their expressing ? I'm tired of it.

If you wish to talk about your own non-nonsensical political view points, there are plenty of other articles, to which that actually relates.

The very measures you're advocating by the way, were taken after the stock market crash preceding what the rest of us know as "The Great Depression." But as is said, 'Those who don't know their history, are doomed to repeat it.' Just do us all a favor and try not to take the rest of us with you...


To whoever said anything abut politics --Insert some meaningless political rabble here-- When it comes to cars and GenY (Im 24) its two things

- Fresh grad entry level starting wages (assuming you got a job) suck. Im an accountant I dont even make 40K. (Live near DC, insane cost of living) As we make our way into the realm of the experienced workforce that actually gets paid, trust me we will buy cars. Notice the newly minted 30somethings

- Practical (read fuel efficent) cars are what Gen Y needs, not sexy sport cars. You will notice two types of young GenY'ers. Really nice car, lives with mom, and practical old car and on their own. A very small percentage manage to pull off both.

Thomas R

skankzilla - you have it backwards as it's Lemmings like yourself who need to impress business owners like me otherwise you'll be unemployed. Every year I fire dozens of you art school grads as you can't cut it. Owning a Range Rover is so far out of your reach it's laughable.


Thomas R.,

Make no mistake, I would never work for a narrow-minded individual such as yourself. Perhaps that's why you're unable to keep anybody employed.


Don't feed the trolls, guys.

John Doe

Gen Y'ers are lazy and don't want to work. They would rather have an iPhone POS than a car. The one's that do manage to buy cars, buy sh***y compacts like Foci and Civics, what trash.


Hello everyone. Im a 20 year old going to college to major in finance. I agree that most people around my age are lazy and that worries me because we are the future of our country. But then there are people like me who walk around with 50k in the bank are fully funding a retirement account and just drive a little compact 06 honda civic that I paid cash for. I think and hope! that my generation will get over all of this material bs and worry about the generation after us and the fact that China is beating at the door ready to economically take us over!

Violating rules are of no use. In fact, such pictures should not be displayed because children may get a negative message from this.


One thing that people do that I disagree with is use dates to define the Millenial Generation. The Millenial (or ANY) generation should be defined in terms of the CHARACTERISTICS an individual has, NOT his or her year of birth. For example, even a 50 - year - old who is tech - savvy, open - minded to diversity of all kinds, and likes the latest in pop culture is a Millenial, while a 20 - year - old who does not have the internet or a cell phone, only supports racial diversity, and likes the Beatles is a Baby Boomer.

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