By on August 1, 2014

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Generation Y has just edged out Generation X in the new car market. A study by J.D. Power shows that, year-to-date, Gen Y buyers (defined as being born in 1977-1994) are buying 26 percent of new vehicles, versus Gen X (1965-1976), which bought 24 percent of new vehicles in the same period.

While Gen X’s share of new vehicle purchases has stayed flat from 2013, Gen Y’s share has increased by 3 percent. Boomers (born from 1946-1964) still make up the biggest demographic, at 38 percent of new car sales, but that’s down 2 percent from 2013.

Compact cars are said to be the most popular Gen Y segment, making up 20 percent of their purchases. That’s compared to compact SUVs for Gen X, which makes up 15 percent of their own car selections.

For all the talk of how the Millenial generation is turning its back on cars, it appears that things aren’t quite panning out that way. Rising incomes, changing priorities and growing families mean that the car will become something that is both more attainable and increasingly necessary to meet their needs. Quite a change from the “kids hate cars” rhetoric of the past few years. But we’ve known for a while that money, not ideology, has been what’s stopped young people from owning cars.

 

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98 Comments on “Generation Why: JD Power Says Gen Y Now Buying More Cars Than Gen X...”


  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    with the lending criteria as low as they are is it any wonder that gen y has bought more cars than gen x?

    i wish someone would provide a sense of the sheer number of gen x, gen y and boomers that are out there. then take those sales numbers and put them on a per person, and per dollar earned basis. that’s an assessment i would like to see.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      There are more Gen-Y members than Gen-X simply by virtue of demographics; Y is the boomer echo generation, and there were simply more boomers booming.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Exactly, psarhjinian. As you might recall, prior to Coupland’s novel the terms “Baby Bust” or “Baby Busters” occasionally would pop up in referring to Gen-X. The defining characteristic of the generation is its small size.

        As a side rant: This is why policy decisions tend to disfavor Gen-Xers and their Silent Generation parents. To wit:
        – The hue and cry about “death taxes” didn’t reach a crescendo until it dawned on Boomers that their parents were dying off. And the lowering of estate taxes only gained traction after the Silent Generation had been squeezed. Look for taxes to shoot back up again once Baby Boomers’ parents have died off.
        – My company recently f*cked over Gen-X on retiree medical coverage. Baby Boomer with 10 years of service at the company? You’re fine. You’ve earned that coverage! Gen-Xer with 25 years of service? Sorry, your coverage has been eliminated to serve the greater good.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          Interesting. I’m 56, and I’ve never once worked for a company that offered a pension or retiree medical coverage. I always thought that was only available to people of my parent’s generation.

          Also, that “death taxes” thing is something that came about with conservatism’s rise starting with the Reagan presidency. It’s ideological, not generational.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Gen Y covers 17 years of buyers. Gen X only covers 11.

    • 0 avatar
      W.Minter

      +1

      “Hey, our PIN data is boring as hell, no one will write about it and no one will buy it.”
      “Dig deeper, just play with the data until you created something misleading to feed the interwebz.”

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @Quentin. Yep, and with fewer people per year in Gen-X.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Quentin: The years are inclusive, so there are 19 years of boomers, 12 years of Xs and 18 years of Ys.
      So each year of Boomers and Xs buys, on average, 2% of new cars, and each year of Ys buys 1.44% of new cars.
      Since we have no information about how many people are in each group, these statistics are of little validity… Kind of interesting, but essentially useless.

      • 0 avatar
        Paco Cornholio

        Around 41 million in Generation X, with the youngest among them in their early-mid 30’s.

        Around 82 million in Generation Y, with the youngest among them around 19 years old.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    So we have some clearly defined dates here identifying who falls into which Generation. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of uniformity as to what kind of time span constitutes a “Generation” though. Of course it’s likely there will be more people in a group born over a much longer period of time, thus more car buyers.

    Gen Y (1977-1994) 17 years
    Gen X (1965-1976) 11 years
    Boomers(1946-1964) 18 years

    Is there some bureau that determines this type of thing?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Bureau of Douglas Coupland.

      Generational barriers aren’t particularly rigid and are defined more by how someone behaves then (strictly) when they’re born. There’s a long-tail of people who have Gen-Xish attitudes that go (at least, in my experience) into the early 1980s.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        That’s always how I’ve viewed it. I’ve always felt it silly to try and pin down dates to a “Generation” because it’s really a cultural/behavioral thing without a date cutoff. Trying to group and count such a thing seems like struggle to monetize it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Precisely. This is the first time I have ever seen Gen Y accused of going beyond 1980, its just not accurate. I might say 83-9x defines the Y.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          It really depends; if you have early Boomer parents who were raised in a Boomerish generation, you tend to pick up more G-Y; if your parents were more last-GI Generation, you tend to act more X.

          And some people pick and mix.

          It’s not a science, not really, and it gets fuzzy at the edges.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Yeah I was born 1977 and I’ve hired quite a few teachers who were born in the middle of my so called generation and I certainly feel like there is a generation gap.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            I was born in ’76 and there definitely is a gap.

            Or rather, an ill-defined edge.

          • 0 avatar
            Occam

            I would say parents who are Silent Generation is more of a GenX thing.

            There’s also siblings – I was born in ’81, my wife in ’78. She was raised by parents 10 years older than mine, with three older siblings who are solidly GenX, while I am the oldest.

            I see a sort of fuzzy range from about 1978-1982… the people a few years older than me and a few years younger seem VERY different, but I feel like I’m sorta on the border and can relate to both.

          • 0 avatar
            TheyBeRollin

            I’m with you on that fuzzy feeling, Occam, but I cut right at 1980. Nobody born in 1979 or earlier ever seems to be a Millennial. Now, in the 1980-1988 range it varies – some are Millennials/Y and some are Gen-X. I can definitely relate to both, but feel more in touch with those younger (probably because I’m the oldest of four Millennials).

            I consider computers the dividing line: My childhood was defined by the dramatic drop in the price of personal computers (that is, I don’t remember a world before them) and my teenage years by the rise of Internet access. Those without this formative environment are Gen-X in my mind, even if they’re younger than me.

            Then again, I think placing Gen-X that far into the 60s is unreasonable. My uncle, born in 1962, is clearly Gen-X, while my father, born in 1958, is a very stereotypical late Boomer. The biggest defining factor I have come up with for Gen-X is that none remember the JFK assassination. The boom also ended with a drop starting around 1960 and bottoming in the 70s.

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/66/US_Birth_Rates.svg <– Boomers marked in red, though I still think they start and end it too late.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Agreed, it isn’t really an exact science. My parents we born in 1919 and married late. I fit into the tail end of the boomers. My upbringing tends to be more pre-boomer. I straddle both worlds.

            I guess that makes me a sensitive redneck with a pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Ya, I’ve never seen Gen-X defined this narrow of a date range.

          I’ve typically seen 64 to 67 as the start and 81 to 84 as the end.

          The most common I’ve seen is 65 – 81

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      I belong to the Star Wars generation. Born in the mid-1960’s between the Boomers and Gen. X. We were just coming of age in 1977 when Star Wars came out and this movie was a defining moment in our lives.

      Those of you who are my age will understand what I mean by this. Before Star Wars you were a child and today you do not recall much from this earlier period of your life. You do remember seeing Star Wars in the theater in 1977 and from that time on you recall most of your life experiences.

      Maybe this sounds kind of silly, but for those of us born in the mid-1960’s this movie is one of those memorable milestones. Other generations have their own cultural and historical milestones which serve as their defining moments.

      As defining moments go, Star Wars does not compare to the Great Depression or W.W. II. My generation was fortunate to have come of age in a time of relative peace and prosperity where we did not have to endure the hardships experienced by our parents and grandparents.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      The demarcation point between Gen X and Gen Y is poorly defined; every week I read an article that shifts the beginning of Gen Y from the mid 80s back to the late 70s. Being born in ’82, I am vacillating between Gen X and Y.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Shocker, now that they are old enough to buy cars, “Gen Y” (which for unknown reasons is 17 years, vs. the 11 for “Gen X”) is buying them. Who woulda thunk it? And since “Gen Y” is inexplicably 6 years longer, we can assume that they will be collectively buying more cars than “Gen X” forevermore.

    Who comes up with the “Generations” anyway? (And why did the “Baby Boom” last 18 years?) I would have thought it’d take less than a decade for post-war adults to get the whole “lets start a family” thing out of their systems.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      We all know that when you’re born doesn’t define who you are. But we also know that the environment affects our experiences, attitudes, and behaviors.

      So, the concept of pervasive societal attitudes & behaviors that change with time is reasonably valid. But at the same time, it’s dumb to lump everyone together into such buckets. A better method would be to define characteristic attitude/behavior patterns and then identify how many people (of varying age) fit that model. The result would be a plot of percentage of people v. year of birth where the curve is something of a bell curve. The various generations would overlap on this plot, and it may be seen that multiple ‘generations’ are dominant at any given time.

      Then, the analysis of the effect of the attitudes & behaviors of that ‘generation’ could be evaluated and studied, but we would also understand the inherent limitations of those trends.

      Edit: the plot would also need to indicate how many people are of a certain age. Just because gen a spans more years than gen b doesn’t mean that there are more people who fall into that group. If there are waves in birth patterns, then different size ranges of time may still capture the same total number of people.

  • avatar
    Andy

    Ditto to all of the above. Silly and arbitrary “news”. 1979 here, and they’ve been telling me I was Generation X since I can remember. Always reckoned myself at the younger end of gen X (thought it went into the early ’80s), and thought the label was kind of stupid. But I strongly renounce the gen Y/”millennial” label. A lot of people my age still behave like stupid kids, granted… but most of us have become actual grown-ups.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Gen X” was coined an in popular use long before anyone considered, started studying, or named the next wave. When that happened, they cut off the tail of Gen X and moved it to gen y, millennials, echo boomers, or whatever they are called this week.

  • avatar
    319583076

    There aren’t any generally accepted criteria for beginning and endings of these “generational cohorts”. So depending on the story you want to tell, you can pick the data that supports your story.

    I did learn that Harvard uses 20 year time spans to define generations in an effort to objectively account for changes in birth rates and generational size.

    In my opinion, the idea of a “generation” is flawed and serves no objective purpose. It serves many duplicitous and subjective purposes, however.

    Beware!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “In my opinion, the idea of a “generation” is flawed and serves no objective purpose. It serves many duplicitous and subjective purposes, however.”

      Inasmuch as it’s useful to have classifications for people for demographic and sociological studies. And marketing, of course.

      I suppose that’s “objective” in the same sense that all of sociology and psychology is, versus, say, mathematics.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      It seems like touchstone events define them to some extent. For instance, most boomers remember the civil rights movement as a turbulent change, while for Gen-X, it was the status quo. Millenials may vaguely remember the cold war, but even for me (’81), it’s just vague references from the news being on, and Boris and Natasha on Rocky & Bulwinkle reruns.

      The cutoff for Millenials will likely be whether they remember where they were when 9/11 happened. If you were born in 1995-2005, GWOT will be the status quo, the internet will have always existed, and gas will have always been $3.00+/gallon. Stories about $0.89 gas and dial up will be as relevant as heaving retired computer administrators telling stories about punch-cards and vacuum tubes.

      My wife is a high school teacher – I was surprised to learn one day that the majority of the kids had never heard a busy signal. They thought it meant the phone line was disconnected.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/

        A fascinating and wonderful idea regarding perceptions.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Phone calling is an art that has sadly been lost.

        I was a child of 1995. We weren’t rich, though, so I held on to some things a little longer. We had dial-up until 2006. Our first cell phone came in 2008. I can actually remember our first computer in 1999.

        I was a child where the Internet was a luxury. Playing wasn’t with video games, but with a baseball. Air conditioning was for the rich. And, I clearly remember 9/11.

        I guess I’m older on the inside than the outside!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          “Air conditioning was for the rich.”

          In 1995? I’m sorry, BS.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            Actually, I was born in 1995. This was later.

            Our vehicles back in the day:

            *1987 Chevrolet R-10 Custom Deluxe. Bought 1996. A/C Never installed on that truck. I still have the truck, and actually enjoy it a lot. I just don’t drive it in July!

            *1992 Ford F-250. Bought new. It HAD A/C, but my father had the engine block crack in 1995. The engine installer screwed up the A/C. We never had it fixed.

            *1993 Ford Escort. Bought new. Non-Working A/C. We never fixed it. The car was always suffering from more immediate problems.

            *1989 Chrysler New Yorker. Bought in 2007 It also had hot A/C. The transmission went out- we only drove it for a year. A/C never fixed.

            *1989 Chevrolet K2500 Scottsdale. Bought in 2007. Coomplete POS. No A/C, and we never bothered to fix it. The truck only lasted a year.

            In late 2007, we bought a 2000 Chevrolet Impala to replace the Chrysler. It actually had working A/C. For a while. The electronic gremlins meant that we couldn’t control whether the A/C worked or not. Some days it did. Some it didn’t. No heat on some winter days was much worse- trust me!

            In 2008, we bought a $1000 Dodge Dakota. It amazingly had (and still has) working A/C. That was our first truck to have that amenity.

            ———————–

            Keep in mind, this is in Wyoming. We have a few 100 degree days. But, not too many.

            Now, of course, most of our vehicles have A/C. We still have two Non A/C vehicles, though.

            Our house didn’t have A/C until the last few years. We now have a window unit. My grandfather got the A/C.

            As a kid, I spent a lot of time at his place!

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Just like my opinion of a cell phone being a luxury!

          I thought that the definition of the length of a “generation” was 25 years.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Wow. Someone who’s actually younger than me. That’d make you class of…2013?

  • avatar
    redav

    If gen y ends with 1994, then the youngest are just turning 20 and probably aren’t even at the point of buying new cars yet. If there were no trends at all, gen y sales would still increase over the next few years simply because of that fact.

    Some things make sense to evaluate using the generation moniker, but somethings–like car sales–doesn’t seem to be a good fit. My gut tells me that where a person is in life (e.g., in school, employed, starting a family) matters much more than their ‘generation.’ A metric like “cars bought per 100k people of that age versus time” would be more informative. For example, look at 24 yr olds each year and see what rate they buy cars. Normalize the data per economic data (employment rate, GDP, or whatnot) and family data (percentage people at that age married/have kids, etc.). Once you have that data, then talk about trends.

  • avatar

    Based on those dates, I’m near the tail-end of Generation Y. And I did just buy a new VW on Saturday. I really don’t know what else to make of that…

    • 0 avatar
      windnsea00

      1986 here and I have owned 11 cars so far…leading the pack haha. 9 of them have been BMW’s but I recently hopped the fence to try out a 911 S and it’s terrific!

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      You’ve mentioned your Sportwagen purchase about 20 times in the past week, mostly with little relevance to the conversation. We’re all happy for you, but c’mon.

      • 0 avatar

        It was relevant to the article in question. And this is relevant to the article in question. Plenty of my other friends have also purchased new cars recently. One of my friends got a Cruze—which was one of my other options—and another got an Elantra. I have a particularly well-off friend that now has an M4, but he gets a new car every year or two. But I also have plenty of other friends who are still using the cars they had in high school (nice or not), and others who don’t have cars at all.

        And as far as the SportWagen goes (since you mentioned it), I probably won’t have it all weekend. I have an appointment to take it in to the service department Friday because of the sunroof. I will request that my good friend (who is a VW technician at that dealership) is the one who works on it, if he’s available.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          +1. His VW purchase is relevant. It may be anecdotal data, but it tells of what Gen Y likes.

          VW/Audi seem to be a popular choice.

          • 0 avatar
            TheyBeRollin

            I do, in fact, love the look/design of their cars (both, but particularly Audi). However, reliability and TCO trumps that.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’m a 1986, and I’ve had 3 Audis. Loved the way they felt, but not what they tried to do to my small, young wallet. Funny enough, my brother alerted me to my last owned Audi being currently for sale, in the same town I sold it in. I haven’t seen it since January of 11 when I sold it, when it had about 50k less miles.

            It’s sad to see my favorite car for sale at a crap little dealer, with a price too high on it.

            They have “50,000 NEW” on the window, which is $20K too little. It’s also listed as FWD. It’s still pretty though.

            http://www.buysellautomart.com/vehicle_profile.php?car_id=34719424

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            That A8 is a nice car!

            My A6 drives like nothing else I’ve ever driven (Remember, the car I grew up with was an Escort with non-working A/C). But, the only maintenance I can do is an oil change.

            The thermostat/Water Pump/Timing Belt service was almost $1000. The thermostat in my truck was $10, 30 minutes, and a few wrenches.

            My Audi is more expensive to maintain than my other cars, but wow, it sure drives nicely! I drive 40,000 miles annually. Having a nice car makes it a little easier.

            Sadly, when this car goes, I’ll probably end up with another one. My wallet is already afraid.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It was my most favorite out of the cars I’ve owned, by far. I got it as a 1-owner actually. Came from a surgeon up in Columbus who had maintained it religiously at the dealer up there. I noticed in the photo of the driver’s seat, the [fat] guy that bought it rubbed all the finish off around the door plastic. For shame!

            The A8 is a serene drive – peg the speedo in the middle of the gauge at 80, and it’s happy all day long. I actually got 23MPG average out of it too, with mixed driving. Summer time comes and you make a little screen tent in the back with the side and rear screens. The rear seats had power lumbar as well, which impressed people. It was 10 years old when I had it, not a creak to be heard.

            I’m sure the A6 is a huge step up from what you’re used to in terms of your prior truck, as well as your parent’s cars – which it sounds like they didn’t care to or couldn’t afford to maintain at all.

            I can’t recall what year your A6 is, but be very careful. The first gen (maybe 98-03) makes the “Buyers Avoid This Used Car” list all the time, and I know Steve Lang certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            My Audi is a 2001 (Last year of the 2.8). It’s only been in the shop twice- once for a stupid sensor and once for the 100k mile timing belt service. I did get a hole in the carpet, though. How can that even happen!? Most issues have been fit and finish. I can live with those.

            My first car was a 1995 F-150. I then bought a 1995 LeSabre. I still have both. I drove the Buick today.

            I’ve always wanted an Audi since I was a little kid. We drove to Denver just to find a few (I’ve only seen three A6 Avants in the county, mine being one). That was a 1000 mile trip in a blizzard. It was worth it to own my dream car.

            ———————-

            My father was terrible with maintenance. If you check the post above, it mentions a 2000 Impala. I inherited it. He gave up on it with a steel belt showing on a tire, bad front brakes (I replaced pads and rotors on all corners- they were all shot), and the last oil change was 30,000 miles before. It runs and drives, but it’s got some head gasket issues (shocker). He thinks it’s worth about $4000- with 220k miles on it. If anybody wants to pay me $4000 for it, I’ll drive home right now and get the title!

            He had an F-250 that he worked to death. At the end, it had a really bad rear main seal leak. He put a bucket under the leak, and poured the oil back in.

            What a shame. My 1995 LeSabre is more cared for. I think I’m the 9th owner of that car. I bought it from a junkyard, and it was in better shape than any of his vehicles. I do all the maintenance, and treat it to some goodies every now and then (New rear suspension coming!)

            ———————-

            For anyone, my advice: Take care of your vehicles. They’re your friends. Don’t abandon them.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            In my experience across all three cars, they get big trouble between 100k-130k. So you’ve just crossed the border into trouble land. Seems silly to have three cars for one person though, right? You’re paying to insure all three?

            I had that 2.8 in a 93 90S, and boy did it feel underpowered and sluggish. I’m guessing they revised it a lot by the time it got to your A6.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            My Buick passes easier, but the Audi 2.8 (30 valve) seems to be a smooth motor, though a tad “pedestrian”. The Buick is a 4 speed auto, though, where the Audi has 5. I’d like to know what the LeSabre could really do with a 5 Speed gearbox. I think it would out accelerate the Audi. The Audi doesn’t kick down a gear as much as the Buick, though. Both the 2.8 and the 3800 are plenty of engine for my driving.

            My father doesn’t like to buy or sell vehicles (Or really, anything), so we hang on to stuff. The Impala isn’t licensed or insured. It’s mostly used for storage. Personally, I would have unloaded it years ago.

            I’m self-employed and go with commercial insurance for some vehicles. My 1987 Chevrolet costs about $20/month. My box van gets suspended from the policy when it sits (I think I’ve pulled it off 6 times this year already).

            We’re a family of three, so our vehicles get used pretty frequently. The Dodge is kept for Farm Use only (No plates), we have two other trucks in service, and two cars. It works pretty well (I do maintenance, so hopefully they’ll last!)

            —————-

            Back to the Audi vehicles- anything specific to worry about? It has it’s share of small issues (Peeling door molding, the pixel display on the dash has lines missing, and stuff like that). Nothing major, though- knock on wood.

            Any tips or stuff that I should be planning to replace that you’re aware of?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            So from my experience between 100-130k miles, you might have:

            -Idle issues
            -MAF sensor fail
            -Vacuum hose leaks (illuminated CEL)
            -Transmission hard shift (5-spd auto A8, shift from 2 to 1)
            -Clogged cat converters (90S, recall)
            -Water pump (if you didn’t do it w/ the t-belt)
            -Water leaks (AC condensation drains clogged)
            -Water leaks (sunroof)
            -General electrical malaise

            FWIW, one of the service history items was a complete replacement of the gauge cluster under warranty in my A8, sometime around 50K miles due to failed pixels. So that one is very common in this era Audi.

            Tips:
            Clean carbon buildup from intake manifold. Check condition of vacuum hoses.
            Unclog wheel arch sunroof drains with pipe cleaner or similar (mine were full of moss).

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Extrapolating from 2013 census estimates, there are about 78 million in the US who are Gen Y and 49.2 million in Gen X (using the age cohorts above.) Gen Y comprises about 32% of the adult population versus Gen X’s 20% share. Direct numeric comparisons are difficult when the disparity is that great.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Gen Y is buying compact and subcompact cars. Small, functional and with much less P for dealers and manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      First time new car buyers get raped more often with crummy financing, dealer add-ons, undervalued trade-ins, and retail prices. I suspect most of it stays with the dealers, but possibly not all with manufacturer financing subsidiaries. Experience can save thousands when buying identical cars from the same dealer, or at least when deciding it is worth going to a different dealer.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “Gen Y (1977-1994) 17 years
    Gen X (1965-1976) 11 years
    Boomers(1946-1964) 18 years”

    Is that true?

    If so, then it looks like with Jack gone we can expect more posts where Derek intentionally misinterprets data in a desperate attempt to get the facts to fit his preferred narrative?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Regardless, the cohort is increasing its market share of car purchases. The trend in market share is worth noting, although the difference in the sizes of the groups makes direct numeric comparisons between them a bit dubious.

      What would be interesting is to see the rate of new car purchases of various age groups. For example, what proportion of today’s 30 year olds buys a new car during the year, in comparison to the 30 year olds of some earlier time period.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “…it looks like with Jack gone we can expect more posts where Derek intentionally misinterprets data in a desperate attempt to get the facts to fit his preferred narrative…”

      Well said, but I fear even that’s giving him too much credit.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    It would almost seem like Gen Y could be cut in two. The tail end, probably 1990-1996 (or whatever end year) is quite different than the first segment. The 1980s crowd are the ones that got screwed in the recession and live in their parents basements and have whatever other spell of bad luck.

    The future hasn’t been written for the tail end though, many of them are in college and grad school and not quite “out in the world” yet. The economy has improved drastically and when they enter the workforce, it will be a different ballgame than the Whiner crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      “the Whiner crowd”

      Please define.

    • 0 avatar

      I hope it turns out better for us (’90-’96 crowd). I’m in a situation wherein I’m not quite finished with undergrad, but I have a full-time, permanent position in my field. So are a few of my friends. I have one friend (she’s epic) who started getting Associate’s degrees in high school, finished her Bachelor’s in Computer Science last December and now works for Google. She’s also married. Then I have a couple of friends who work at relatively low-paying jobs, but are putting themselves through college that way (and succeeding). I’ve also got friends who took certifications to get skilled labor jobs (like the VW technician friend). I think they’ll all do well, barring some kind of unforeseen economic collapse.

      What I’m doing now—because I don’t have the expenses of children or even a marriage—is saving a lot of money. I might get into investing, but not before I thoroughly study that industry.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Has is been that bad for the 80s born gen-Yers? I was born in ’83, and I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have a job, a car, a place to live, and some money in my pockets. Granted, at one point in time it was a $13/hr job, Oldsmobile Achieva, studio apt in Detroit, and less than $500 in my bank account.

        • 0 avatar
          TheyBeRollin

          I had some really bad periods in the 2000s. I was dropped right into the middle of the dot-com bust market, ended up living with my parents way too long, and my social life was stunted. My biggest mistake was not moving back to SoCal immediately, but I was so burned by debt and short-term contract employment that I never could get far enough ahead to get there until the market started recovering in 2005. By 2007 I was back in SoCal and doing well, and I’ve done well ever since. I had the bad fortune of ending up stuck in a bad location (one with a very small and poor local economy) due to my parents moving us in my teens. Overall, though, I think we did far better than those later in the generation.

          Those born after about 1988 are the ones most likely to live with their parents, older siblings, or in very tenuous circumstances. Their adulthood completely failed to start due to the Great Recession starting in 2007-2008. They have never during their adult lives been in an environment where they had any reasonable hope of proper independence. They’re more broke than even I remember being, with more debt and less to show for it…

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Late 70s, early 80s and 1991-1996 are Generation Y.

            1987-1990 are Generation Whine.

            Problem is, Gen Whine gets all the media spotlight.

          • 0 avatar
            hybridkiller

            “1987-1990 are Generation Whine.”

            I was gonna say anyone born pre-1990 who’s still living with their parents…

  • avatar

    One wonders what J.D. Power’s agenda is. Boomers not only are buying more cars, they are buying the cars that make gross profit for OEMs and dealers. The gross profit per unit on the average vehicle purchased by a Boomer compared to a Gen Y type is at least 3 TIMES as high. So take the Boomer sales volume and multiply it by at least 3 to get a more accurate comparison with the relative value of the two cohorts to the auto industry. I ain’t even close.

    While JD Power did mention that Gen Y is buying a lot of compacts, not once did I see any mention of gross profit comparatives. Its as if they don’t think it is important, or they do know it is important, but for some reason decided not to mention it.

    There is a concerted effort taking place in the auto industry to “prove” that Gen Y is a big deal and that the business should be turned upside down to accommodate their wishes and desires, i.e. buying a car like a gadget from Amazon. There is a complete industry that has risen up to teach dealers how to do this, just as JD Power and others did surveys to “prove that “One Price” was the way to go, and for a fee, they’d show you how to do business the successful “Saturn Way.”

    By the time Gen Y grows up, they will have changed like all other generations that preceded them have. Perhaps the industry should figure out where that generation is going rather than being concerned about where they are now, as if they will stay that way forever.

    Some other Gen Y info at the link:

    http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/millennial-male-not-who-you-think-he-152929

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Boomers not only are buying more cars, they are buying the cars that make gross profit for OEMs and dealers. The gross profit per unit on the average vehicle purchased by a Boomer compared to a Gen Y type is at least 3 TIMES as high”

      JDP is doing this for marketing reasons; there’s no agenda, unless you count all marketing as an agenda.

      I think the point isn’t Boomer vs G-Y, it’s G-X vs G-Y.

      G-X is moving it’s prime earning years but has been badly financially disenfranchised; there’s no point in chasing G-X sales as there had been with Boomers.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It could be that as more and more Gen Y people enter the workforce, including among the ranks of J.D. Power, they are trying to justify their sense of self-importance.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “One wonders what J.D. Power’s agenda is.”

      Calculating and measuring data. That’s what they do for a living.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        ““One wonders what J.D. Power’s agenda is.”

        Calculating and measuring data. That’s what they do for a living.”

        I’d say what they do for a living is sell data or more so sell interpretations of data.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    Come on Derek, do a little math before you copy/paste a fluff piece like this.

    If Gen Y is 32% of the total and 26% of the buyers they may indeed be “turning their back” on purchases (or just haven’t caught up to themselves yet in the new car market).

  • avatar

    Gen Y only starts in 1977 if your data doesn’t support the point your editor assigned you to write about.

    YOB 1982 here and I’m Gen X all day long. Real gen Y start date is more like ’85 or ’86 (judging by my younger siblings’ behavior).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Exactly.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      Another ’82 here who completely agrees with you. I use jeans as the dividing line between generations; kids in their early to mid 20s wear brightly colored skinny jeans, even to work, whereas I wouldn’t be caught dead in those things. Oversized hipster glasses is another Millenial fashion trend that I will wholeheartedly avoid.

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        That group is actually pretty small. None of my siblings nor any of my coworkers (overwhelmingly 25 and under) fall into any of those stereotypes. Hipsters are actually a Gen-X thing that went mainstream (and drew in some younger me-too types). It is more of an evolution of the slacker anti-establishment lifestyle.

        Fashion trends are cyclic and only marginally linked to a generation. They do seem to stick a while, though, so I suspect some of that will hold over indefinitely. How long did you wear your hair in spikes? How long did you wear baggy wide-leg jeans? Big/loose t-shirts? How long did Gen-X wear flannel?

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          You have a different experience from mine. At my workplace, which is a Fortune 500 tech company, a significant portion of the new hires come to work wearing skinny jeans and goofy glasses, and these are not traditional hipsters. I’m not arguing whether this style is intrinsically good or bad, only that it is mostly confined to Gen Y.

  • avatar
    Fred

    As others have pointed out, putting people into these categories is not a science. Example, as an aging hippy boomer I felt out of place at the Gen y hipster party for the release of the new A3. Talking with others it did seem this targeted marketing hype was a bit misplaced.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Today I was listening to a program on the radio and somehow they got into a generational discussion. I forgot the topic exactly, but they were talking about the generation immdeiately following Generation Y (or millenials, or whatever stupid label we have on our heads).

    You want to know what the newest generation, 1995-present is called? It’s very original, and took many focus groups to come up with. They are Generation Z (perhaps short for Zombie?). I imagine the next generation will be, having run out of phoenetic letters, will be Alpha.

  • avatar
    TW5

    At least Gen Y is buying smaller cars. I read a depressing article the other day from UMTRI. Air travel is now twice as efficient as the passenger car market. In other words, it’s more efficient to lift a 200-ton airplane 7-miles high than it is to drive your vehicle from home to work.

    That’s a sad commentary on the state of automotive engineering and consumer decision-making.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      “In other words, it’s more efficient to lift a 200-ton airplane 7-miles high than it is to drive your vehicle from home to work.”

      Not if you’re trying to get to work, an activity that repulses UMTRI.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Implying anything about passenger cars has ever been 100% about efficiency. In the US at least, the automobile is a sign of American individualism, screw efficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      If that is how we are managing it then shouldn’t we all travel everywhere via container ship? Or Satellite…What sort of MPG have Voyager I and II gotten?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Let’s see…it took a helluva lot of thrust to get them out of Earth’s gravity well, but since then, they’ve been running purely on the slingshot effect, with outstanding results. I’m pretty sure they’ve got the record for “farthest distance achieved with no onboard fuel”.

  • avatar
    hybridkiller

    I’m coining a new demographic classification – Generation Oversteer – that would be anyone old enough to remember when American-made cars were all rwd (Olds Toronado notwithstanding).

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I thought the introduction of New Coke was the point of demarcation? That was in the 80’s sometime.


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