The Truth About Cars » millenials The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:57:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » millenials Generation Why: Arrogance And Adolescence Tue, 11 Mar 2014 18:46:41 +0000 28732988

News of Audi’s marketing efforts for the upcoming A3 has been making the rounds on the auto blogosphere for all the wrong reasons. As Automotive News reports, the 60-odd page launch guide given to dealers is supposed to be a codex for appealing to Millenial buyers with “farm-to-table” food, craft beer and Spotify playlists. Since the goodwill towards my angry-young-millennial shtick has evaporated over the past two years, I’ll say that this whole thing sounds like Audi trying to copy GM’s ham-handed youth marketing efforts. For now, let’s bring it back to the product.

The A3, as we know, is a front-drive Audi 4-door that only comes with a two-pedal transmission and is based on the same MQB platform as the Golf. And I’m really looking forward to it.

To understand why, let’s rewind to 2006. High school was a charmed epoch for me: I was utterly unaware of my own awkwardness or abrasively brash humor. I confused shock and offense for being profound and witty. My grades were not great, but good enough to get into a good journalism school. My parents urged me to work harder, get better grades and leave doors open for the future. “I don’t plan on going back to school after undergrad,” was my reply. If you think I am arrogant, combative and hard headed now, I wish you could have seen me then.

My home life was equally comfortable. My father had just turned 50, made partner at his law firm a few years earlier and was enjoying unprecedented prosperity. My mother had fully recovered from a bad stomach bug that left her bed-ridden for months. One vacation a year turned into two, and in 2003, my father traded in his 1999 Acura TL for a 2003 BMW 530i, which was among the very last to come to Canada before the Bangle-tainted E60 debuted.

The 530i was his pride and joy. Having long admired the E38 740iL, he was now in a position to afford a top-tier sports sedan and determined not to let the chance pass him by. The 530i was, in his mind, the apex sedan: an adept tourer that could be pushed hard on the odd day when he felt like it.

Sadly, I barely got to drive it. While I had my license towards the end of our time with the car, my father opted not to renew the lease. Among its candidates for replacement was a car I regarded with some contempt: the Volkswagen Jetta. The GLI was not yet released in Canada, but there was a 2.0T model that offered the GLI’s suspension, two-piece alloys as well as leather and the premium stereo system – all equipment that my father valued over the tartan cloth, boy racer bodykit and red brake calipers that would arrive a year later on the Canadian GLI.

In hindsight, the petulant whining about my father’s car is mortifying – but what would adolescence be without obnoxious entitlement and the inability to empathize. In his characteristically polite but firm way, my father informed me that the BMW could not stay, unless I wanted to shoulder the burden of paying tuition myself. We took the BMW out for one final drive, and he convinced me to come collect the car with him later on that week. It was black on tan leather, just like the 530i, and on our maiden voyage home, we went against the dealer’s strict break-in instructions and cracked the throttle. It was, without a doubt, much quicker in a straight line. The VAG 2.0T and DSG gearbox were fairly advanced stuff for 2006, and feeling the wave of torque along with the DSG’s rapid downshifts proved to be addictive.

I spent most of my real driver’s education – getting comfortable in traffic, figuring out how to pass on the highway, parallel parking – in the Jetta. My initial distaste for its front-drive, two pedal configuration and its less prestigious image (which one tends to value at age 17) faded away. The 530i was graceful and poised, while the Jetta was more like a feisty puppy, diving into corners with the crappy Michelin all-seasons howling away, spinning the inside tire upon exit in a furious fit of torque steer and then rocketing the car forward when it calmed down.  It was a great car for a young man to learn to drive quickly, without the “look-at-me” factor of the sportier MKV cars.

Eventually, the Jetta left our driveway as well – the prospect of owning that car out of warranty was enough to prompt my father to get rid of it. At that point, we had the Miata as well, and with me paying for it, he could have all the thrills of sports car ownership, without the hassles. To this day, the Jetta, not the BMW, or his Prelude VTEC or his Integra GS-R, is the one car that receives the fondest tributes.

So what does this have to do with the A3? Well, it seems a hell of a lot like the old Jetta. The enthusiast community may have derided the current Jetta as an Americanized bastard-child for Volkswagen, but they weren’t buying anyways. My father, on the other hand, was a customer that Volkswagen really did lose. It may not be the dynamic equal of the BMW 320i, or as stylish as the Mercedes-Benz CLA, but if it can deliver a comfortable, fairly powerful driving experience with dynamic competence up to 7/10ths, it will be good enough for him, and plenty of other entry-level luxury buyers. But the A3, with its nicer interior, 2.0T powertrain and compact dimensions, is the kind of car that he’s looking for – even though he’s old enough to be the parents of the buyers Audi is targeting. I wouldn’t be surprised if other older customers are attracted towards this car as they look towards downsizing. It wouldn’t be the first time that a car is targeted at younger buyers, but purchased by older consumers.

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Ur Turn: Getting My First Driver’s License At 25 Sun, 03 Nov 2013 22:00:54 +0000 IMG_0022

Editor’s note: Last year we ran a post from Tova Schreiber on what it was like to learn how to drive at 24. Now she’s back to tell us about having her driver’s license and driving.

I’m sitting at my desk, waiting for students to arrive and thinking about cars. Waking up at 6:00 on a Sunday morning is rarely fun, but I truly love what I do for a living. My fingers are stained from last night’s dye job, and they clutch a tall Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate. Together with a calorie-laden croissant, it’s a breakfast of champions that fuels my discussions as a teacher.

I filled the tank in my brother’s old Focus wagon a few weeks ago, spending what was small fortune to me to repay a favor of his. That car isn’t in great shape, but I borrow it whenever circumstances allow. It takes me to meetings, on errands, and through excursions with my darling nephew. It’s a rare moment that doesn’t see me begging to get behind the wheel, even if I’m only going to be driving for ten minutes.

Last year, I was a scared kitten. It was a few hours before Rosh HaShana and I had to merge onto the interstate for the first time. The driving instructor, a comedic sort, told me I should pray for a sweet new year. I just wanted to survive the freeway.

Things got easier. With time, my hands no longer shook or sweat when they gripped the steering wheel. My then-boyfriend’s ex-police cruiser, with its fearful acceleration, died a few days after I got my driving permit, so he bought a cute, easy-to-handle Hyundai and that’s what I learned to drive on.

There were many frightening moments in the past year. One evening, I was taking some friends to the pub when I suddenly heard, “Tova, change lanes! The lane is ending! No! We’re going to die!”

I did what I was told in the nick of time. We didn’t die.

This summer, a cute guy sat behind me in my Statistics & Econometrics course. I would lend him my notes, which everyone else wanted but couldn’t have, and tell him about my driving adventures. When I said I would soon be taking my road test, he was sure that it would be a second license for me at 24. His look of shock at my explanation (“Nope, I’m a new driver!”) was beyond price.

It’s all been an interesting journey for me. The day I passed my driving test is the day my relationship with my now-ex combusted. He still lets me drive his Hyundai, though, when we go out to dinner.

I’d like to get a motorcycle endorsement eventually and buy a small Honda bike. My parents don’t like that idea, although I rather enjoy the imagery of arriving at my weekday preschool classroom in leather chaps and a tough jacket. More than one person has told me to restore my dad’s ’66 Elan in the garage (pictured above); I fear it has been rendered irredeemable by feral cats. I’m still in love with Chevelles, talking K-cars, and vehicles with interesting cosmetic details like sequential tail lights and gull wing doors. Then there’s my friend’s old Firebird, which needs a few grand to run and many more to be worthy of the Woodward Dream Cruise. (In happier times, we’d goad Corvette drivers, almost all of whom were men with midlife crises, into racing against us. They were left in the dust every time.) As it stands, though, I am carless and moping about it. Moping about not having a car and craving those moments when I can control a huge machine! What a difference a year or two can make.

This summer was filled with milestones. I turned 25, graduated from college with an degree in economics (Detroit editor‘s note: magna cum laude), and began a modest teaching career.

…None of these things has given me the type of thrill and enjoyment that driving has. None of them. I finally came to understood the gravity of it on a warm evening a few weeks ago. I was driving home from a meeting with my boss. It was dark, and the streetlights shone down on the rings on my fingers, making them sparkle. I tapped the steering wheel, cruising along as Billy Idol crooned over the radio waves.

What set you free? I need you here by me! In the midnight hour, she cried, “More! More!

Flooring it, I merged onto the interstate and blended into the colorful stream of cars. The music surrounded me, claiming me as my own voice added itself to the din. I had power and speed and independence. I had myself, and I was driving. In the mad, rushing tons of steel death traps, I felt quite alive.

Getting over fear is a beautiful thing.

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NAIAS: Chevrolet’s Concepts, From The Eyes Of Gen Y Wed, 11 Jan 2012 03:00:13 +0000

Back in September, I attended the launch of the Chevrolet Sonic for another outlet. Despite GM’s insistence that the Sonic was being marketed at “millenials”, I was the sole member of the press that fit that demographic. Despite the cheesy, ham-handed attempt at being in touch with the demographic (a parking garage festooned with contrived, faux-urban graffiti, for example), the Sonic left a favorable impression. It is an honest, practical, fun to drive car that is affordable for young people – well, some of them.

Although I have a full-time gig with salary and benefits, I am in the distinct minority among my peer group. Most of us should have had a relatively trouble-free path to maintaining the middle class (or upper-middle class) lifestyles we were born into. All of us have some form of post-secondary education or have a learnt a trade, but few of us have stable, full-time jobs. Most of my friends who graduated from good schools with 4-year degrees are stuck working contract jobs with no benefits and little promise of stability.I would need both hands to count the number of friends who have been let go this year. Many are stuck working unpaid internships in the hopes that it may lead to a contract gig. Renting overpriced apartments in gentrified neighborhoods seems to be the future. Tight credit, low wages and high real estate prices in urban centers makes home ownership seem as distant as winning the Powerball.

If rent and rising food prices weren’t enough, gas, insurance and parking are just added expenses on top of the rising cost of living. In short, buying any is just not on the radar for a lot of people in my demographic. Chevrolet seems hell bent on becoming the brand of choice for Gen Y, and their new concepts, given the silly monikers of Code 130R and Tru 140S (which look more like inebriated SMS typos than vehicle names) are their latest salvo.

Chevrolet said that they consulted with countless members of Gen Y to find out what they want in a car. Although various outlets have taken Chevy to task for not creating a diesel, 6-speed manual turbocharged rear drive compact that gets 50 mpg, looks like an Audi R8 and costs $10,000, these concepts are probably a step in the right direction. They are efficient and although they may not be particularly fast, they are unique looking in an attractive way, rather than in a bizarre, Hyundai Veloster manner. The concepts may look derivative or even silly to us, but to the average consumer in their 20′s, they don’t look like a subcompact hatch or (worse) a bell-shaped subcompact sedan, and this is a victory in itself.

Don’t let web pundits fool you either; most young people don’t give a rats ass about speed beyond if it feels quick when judging by the seat of their pants – gas is expensive, street racing carries much stiffer penalties than the post WWII boomer days, and if anyone really wants a performance car, they’ll probably buy something used. It’s not that the car has to drive poorly, just that 0-60 times and lateral g’s are way down the list for a lot of people who haven’t been actively following the development process of the Scion FR-S (read: 99% of the population).

Despite all of GM’s efforts, the big problems for the future remain structural. More and more young people don’t even have their driver’s licenses (speaking anecdotally this seems to be a female trend. My girlfriend and many of her friends don’t have their drivers licenses. The boyfriends do the driving), and the precarious economic situation of young people, combined with the allure of a used car from a prestigious brand makes the idea of a new car less and less appealing.

At this point, you’re probably looking to see what my conclusion is regarding Gen Y, the future of Chevrolet as a brand and where cars will be going. Honestly, I don’t have one. I’ve been alive for a shorter period of time than many of you have had driver’s licenses, and there are too many external factors that will determine the above. If gas prices go up, or we approach Spainish levels of youth unemployment – or both – then Chevrolet’s problems are going to be far greater than “how can we get young people to identify with our brand.”  If I knew the answer to these, I’d probably be off somewhere else making a lot more money and doing a lot more societal good. As it is, I am but a mere automotive blogger, with a loyal and intelligent readership, a 15 year old Mazda and a rewarding job that offers a steady income. I am blessed, even if the prospect of owning my first new car seems very far off.

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