Has the Auto Industry lost the Millennial generation?

A friend of mine (she’s free to call herself out in the comments) pointed out this really interesting article about the car industry and how it’s losing the next crop of drivers.

At the upper end of this generation, my car story is a little different. I haven’t owned one in years, and even when I “owned” (in quotes because it was still in my parents’ name) I was driving on my parents’ insurance.

When I got back to the US after living and working in Scotland, I chose one of the least car-friendly cities in the world as my new home base. And as I was saying during a conversation about this in mid-May: at this point in my life, I have no interest in owning a car.

I love public transportation. I love walking. I love not having to worry if my budget is suddenly going to shrink because gas prices have spiked, and I love not having to worry about waking up to find that my transmission has gone and I have to get it fixed and that’s $1500+ less that I’ve got in the bank. I have no car payment, and I know that my unlimited metro card and a handful of taxis will cover my transport needs throughout the month.

But apparently, auto makers are now offering to give free test drives and so on to non-auto bloggers. So I just want to be really clear: as a non-auto blogger of the Millennial generation, if any of those suits in Tokyo, Detroit or the other places the article writer cites are looking for a someone to test and talk about their product, I’m more than happy to make myself available.

So long as they’re picking up the tab.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE featured an article on car culture in New York in their June 4th, 2012 issue. WHY I DRIVE  by Justin Davidson was not available for linking at the time of this blog post as far as I can tell; if anyone finds a link please let me know.

3 Responses to Has the Auto Industry lost the Millennial generation?

  1. interesting. I love my car, and I love driving, but the public transportation system in DC and DC’s suburbs is kind of hit or miss-I like being able to do stuff on my own schedule, and it costs a lot to use public transport here-my gas budget is actually smaller than what my metro budget would be. Many jobs will offset that cost, but not internships, so that doesn’t help. Plus I have lots of friends and family that aren’t easily accessed via public transportation. not to mention that all of georgetown and lots of the surrounding area is completely cut off from the metro. I need my car. But if I didn’t, if I could conveniently, cheaply, and easily take the train to most places, I’d use it a lot less.

  2. Car ownership is a entirely different animal over here. We are wedded to cars. There is a large fleet of cheap Asian import vehicles all at least 15+ years old. Parts are easily available and these cars are _cheap_. Most 20 somethings wouldn’t even consider buying a new car. Most 30 somethings would just buy a slightly nicer used car. The only person I know who’s bought a new car in my memory is my elderly great aunt. Everyone else just seems to hand them around. It’s not uncommon for a university aged student’s first car to be a 1986 toyota, bought for $1500 and run into the ground. There’s a yearly dress-up race from Christchurch to Dunedin where the only requirement be that the cars being driven are worth less than $500 (whether they make it – most seem to – is part of the fun).
    I drive a 1997 Hyundai. I think about replacing it…but why? It’s rock solid (other than the odd parts replacement issue) and it will run and run. I don’t owe any money on it, so I have no car payment. It gets good mileage for the dollar, still.
    So environmentally friendly? No. The solution? Well, in the face of our small population (widely dispersed demographics) and fairly useless public transport (in chch there’s probably 2 buses per hour on most routes) however, car ownership is entrenched and (often) essential. If you live outside one of the major cities and don’t have a car, you are essentially trapped. If you live IN one of the major cities you have to plan your life around the next available bus, which don’t run at night much past 12, btw.
    Having said that, the brakes have come on the import of these cheap Asian vehicles. So ten years from now when many of them have died and none have come in to replace them….the scene may be very different.

  3. Nicholas Robinson

    But if you don’t own a car, you can’t really participate fully in the economy, even in NYC.

    Personal, owner-operated transportation is the only sure, efficient way of ensuring the ability to be anywhere, at any time, as soon as possible. No calling a cab to get to the airport, no need to goof around with outbound trains (who likes Penn Station? cesspool of foul smell and crime) — a car allows you to get where you need to be, when you need to be there.

    Plus, it’s a mobile base of operations: a car lets you carry with you your whole home office without having to worry that you might misplace it or have it ripped from your person in a crowded public transport terminal.

    In sum: I really have to disagree with your assessment. Anyone with two cents to rub together (cars are extremely cheap in the US, gas prices aside — also, air and electric cars are squashing the gas dilemma for the savvy shopper) and good business sense will make the investment in a car, whether planning to use the vehicle on a regular basis, or just to have it on hand in a monthly garage for when needed.

    Best Wishes,

    Nick

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