Millennials differ from parents on car choices

millennial-cars

autoblog.com

Source: Millennials differ from parents on car choices, clarionledger.com

PDF: millennialcars

Remember back to when you were just starting out and considered getting your first car? While most of us probably had a vehicle in high school and college, and a lucky few were presented with a new vehicle upon graduation, the vast majority of us started out with a banged-up beater that had seen better days.

For me, it was a 1972 Ford Gran Torino. My mom and dad had bought the car used; by the time I got it, the car was 8 years old and had high mileage. But that didn’t stop me from falling in love with it. I took great care of it all through high school, until I said a wistful goodbye a few years — and many miles — later.

There is a special relationship between young people and their first car, and when they finally get the chance to buy a vehicle on their own, they usually know what they want. But a new study from Autolist.com indicates car-shopping millennials (loosely defined as those born from the early 1980s through the late 1990s, or ages 25-34), have wildly different preferences than their parents (Generation Xers) when it comes to buying those first vehicles.

Millennials appear to be thinking more about the environmental impacts of their vehicles and care somewhat more about features, according to the survey. However, they care less about price, reliability and brand than the previous generation. And about half of millennials said they planned to hold on to their vehicles for five years or less, contrasting sharply with their parents’ generation, most of whom said they planned to keep their vehicles much longer.
The generations also differed somewhat in what they considered their favorite makes and models. The Ford Mustang was the only favorite make and model both groups named (when asked what they’d consider their favorite performance car model). For trucks, millennials preferred the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, while Gen Xers preferred Ford F-150s. For a small car, millennials tended to choose the Honda Civic, while Generation X preferred the Honda Accord. When asked about their SUV preferences, millennials chose the Honda CR-V, while the older generation chose the Toyota RAV4.

The study is just the latest in the mixed bag of news for the auto industry. While some of those trends portend well for automakers, others could spell trouble down the road. Last year, the University of Michigan found that just 60 percent of today’s 18-year-olds have driver’s licenses, compared with 80 percent in the 1980s. Many millennials have come to view cars less as a status symbol and more like just a way to get from Point A to Point B. As a result, services like ride-sharing and personal transportation options — such as scooters and electric bikes — are becoming more attractive to millennials. Those trends, however, are more pronounced in densely packed urban areas; preferences of millennials in a largely rural state like Mississippi are probably more like their parents’.

Still, it’s obvious things are changing. Whether all this data mean millennials are truly different from past generations remains to be seen; it could be that they’re just hitting life’s milestones later. However, it’s also possible that how Americans view, purchase and use automobiles is undergoing a major shift. The age of the autonomous vehicle is about to dawn, and together with a generation with changed expectations, the automotive landscape will likely be unrecognizable in just a few years.

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