What's Wrong With This Picture: The Kids Aren't Alright Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
what s wrong with this picture the kids aren t alright edition

A lot has changed since 1978… and not all of it for the better. One undeniable trend: young folks just aren’t that into the cars anymore. Automotive News [sub] takes on this, the greatest challenge facing automotive marketers in a lengthy piece that asks

Is digital revolution driving decline in U.S. car culture?

The implicit answer: yes. As a member of the generation that will doubtless be blamed for the decline of the auto industry for decades to come, I think the root causes of Millennial carlessness are a bit more complicated than mere progress in digital technology. And though the causes may be complex, the reality couldn’t be more clear. Want to know how this dynamic plays out? Take a look at Japan. If the car industry doesn’t find a way to re-associate its products with more positive connotations than debt, traffic, commuting and pollution, it’s going to face an increasingly tough slog as the Millennial generation comes into its own.

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  • Gimmeamanual Gimmeamanual on Jun 02, 2010

    Does no license = not knowing how to drive? Whether the kid wants to or not, parents better be teaching them how. It's one of those life skills, like swimming, which even if you can't do well, you should know how.

  • Phantomwolf Phantomwolf on Jun 02, 2010

    I look at it this way, and I am 31 so I have seen time pass since 78, the time when cars were still novelties has passed and they truly are appliances. Kids have always been, and will continue to be drawn by novelty, that is one of the great joys of youth. Cars have now been around with us for more than a hundred years. If I am not mistaken there are more cars per capita now than ever. I remember distinctly when I was a small child, most of the parents had only one car per household. Then Credit got cheap in the late 80's and 90's and you had an explosion of car ownership in the US. With more than one car in the family now, it is easier for little Johny to get a ride back from the mall than have to work his tail feathers off for some magnificent "POS" 70's, 80's vintage (Pick your Detroit lemon of choice.)

  • Dcdriver Dcdriver on Jun 02, 2010

    My off-the-wall theory is that parents of teenagers in 1978 and into the 80's (like my parents) were better with money and didn't over-extend themselves with debt. Today's parents of teenagers did one too many home renovations, expensive vacations, bought expensive cars for themselves, too many 60 inch plasma's etc. so they don't have money in the family budget for a car for their kid. My parents made pretty good money, but drove POS Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles until the wheels fell off, didn't replace a thing in the kitchen or bathroom for decades, saved money and had plenty of cash when the time came to buy my sister and me a used car. The parents of the 90's and 2000's seemed to blow all their disposable income into making sure they had top of the line everything in their home trying to keep up with their neighbors and friends.

  • Wsn Wsn on Jun 02, 2010

    Could it also be due to the deminishing middle class? The pay gap between a CEO and his employees grew by thousands of percentage points in the past 30 years. Maybe just that the average middle class family has less purchasing power to help the children buy a car anyway (or more likely not able to buy a new one for the Dad and thus can't pass the old one to the son).