By on May 29, 2013

Something I’ve long maintained (and that has been backed up by many of the B&B) is that young people still like cars and do care about them. The issue of falling car ownership among young people is largely an economic one. The cost of living is going up while wages are stagnating. Gasoline is expensive. Student debt, smartphones and rent are more important obligations than car payments, insurance and fuel. All of that can be quantified with data.

What hasn’t been so easily demonstrable was that young people still like cars, despite the wishful thinking of many who cheer for the end to the automobile era. Now we finally have some good research that backs up my gut feeling.

A new study by Edmunds shows that not only are more Millennials buying new cars, but they aren’t opting for the usual old boring appliances either. Using data from Polk, Edmunds discovered that the number of 18-34 year-old buyers is rebounding – not quite to pre-recession levels, but improving steadily from 2011 to 2012. And it looks to be holding steady this year.

According to the Edmunds study, Millennial buyers tend to buy a greater share of luxury and sporty cars as well – segments that are traditionally the domain of older buyers with disposable income that can be spent on a car. This is another notion that has long suffered from an absence of hard data, but I can tell you that the rationale behind this is simple; if we’re going to shell out for a car, it’s going to be something that we really want, like a Scion tC (yes, lots of people want those, even if we don’t) or a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, rather than a more utilitarian car.

The study isn’t entirely rosy, and it highlights a number of roadblocks that could continue to derail car ownership for Generation Y

For starters, the job market remains very tough for under-25 crowd. Double digit unemployment rates persist for the youngest segment of the labor force despite that fact that its labor force participation rates have continued to fall and are at their lowest levels since at least 2003.

Meanwhile, the older Millennials — the 25 to 34 year olds — continue to struggle with slow income growth. From 2010 to 2011 (the most recent year available), their median household income grew 1.8 percent but as in the previous three years, failed to keep pace with inflation. This growth rate is particularly concerning since the older Millennials tend to be in the first ten years of their careers, the period during which 70 percent of raises typically occur.

The Millennials’ job and income issues are compounded by the fact that they are entering the workforce with significantly more student loan debt than previous generations. This higher debt burden impedes their ability to qualify for other loans, including car loans.

Not mentioned is the rapid expansion in credit and auto loan terms – are younger consumers with lower incomes taking on 72, 84 or 96 month term loans to help them afford that FR-S or 328i? It’s certainly plausible, but again, without hard data, it’s little more than a theory.

Over at Automotive News, Mark Rechtin wrote an equally insightful rebuttal to the latest study that posits that Generation Y are eager to reject cars and home ownership for an urban lifestyle of renting and Brooklyn Bohemianism. Rechtin delicately puts forward what we all know in the back of our minds; one day, we will turn into our parents and trade in the chic loft in a gentrified neighborhood for new digs that are more suitable for raising a family. These will likely be in the suburbs, and will necessitate a car.

But before that, they will grow up

Young people do care about cars. They just haven’t had to. Either unemployed or underemployed, many Gen Y college grads have moved back home with their helicopter parents who have resumed their role as their childrens’ personal taxi services. Gen Ys can’t afford cars, but they can afford iPhones.

If Edmunds is correct, then this is all set to change. The economy will recovery, good jobs will return for America’s youth and the dream of a middle class life will start to become a more realistic goal for the 70 million young people who constantly uncertain about their future. I certainly hope it happens. The alternative is extremely ugly.


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59 Comments on “Generation Why: Finally, Some Hard Data Shows That Young People Do Care About Cars...”

  • avatar

    there are certain some who want the inner city type life where its no kids and a bohemian lifestyle of cafes and apple products

    however more like the idea of a dual income family with the house and kids and the CUV and the small luxury sedan to show people they are successful but not ostentatious… thats the Audi A4

  • avatar

    I definitely see some passion for cars out there. We have a decent amount of young people come to our car meets. But theres a larger portion of older people.

    My brothers son is about 8 years old. You would think any boy would love riding in a fast car. I certainly loved it when my dad drove fast when I was young. But he could care less when I take fast corners. Hes too busy with his nose stuck in a Ipad or gameboy. He seems to be bored with anything mechanical, which is sad.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    One of my coworkers is 24 and nearly every day he comes over to talk about what car he should get next. He was in a place where leasing a 4-door Civic made sense, plus he seemed to get a pretty good deal on it. Well, he is about to exceed the miles and needs to turn it in early or pay the excess – we’ve been doing the math for that trying to figure out which is more expensive.
    He wants to replace it with something fun. It’s very refreshing to know he’s not blindly going for a Prius or another Civic despite him being a bit of a hipster (not that I’m not myself). I just need to keep him from constantly convincing himself that an Accord Coupe is the answer.

    Also, at 34 it is interesting to see how my age title keeps changing. I went from the back end of Gen X, to the Mtv Generation, to the front end of Gen Y, and now I’m considered a Millenial? I was born in the ’70s for pete’s sake.

    • 0 avatar

      Depending when you were born you sound like you are firmly in Generation X. I was born in ’66 right at the begining of Generation X, but all my brothers and sisters are Boomers. Sometimes I feel like the lines are arbitrary, if my childhood experience was virtually the same as my siblings’ should I not then be a Boomer myself?

      I have decided not. They went to high school in the 70s, I started in 1980. They were able to get decent jobs right out of high school but four years later those jobs were gone and I was a victim of mid-80s’ economics. They liked disco, I liked punk – uh-oh, this is starting to sound like a Subaru commercial!

      You are what you are I suppose. If you look at the typical Gen Y guy and wonder why the need a phone in their hand every minute, you aren’t one of them. If you are reading this on your phone while you are out on a date, you are.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. The generation categorization isn’t really about an age number, it’s your attitude. I’m told I’m technically on the leading edge of Y, but definitely identify far more with X culturally. Labels, just labels.

    • 0 avatar

      But it sounds like an Accord coupe probably is the answer for him. It is far more upscale than a Civic but still very modest.

      Also, I agree about the generation-naming. I was born in 81, and identify far more with Gen X than I do with millenials (I was in college during 9/11. Millenials are identified as still growing up post-9/11)

  • avatar

    You mean a study by a car magazine found that (GASP) young people might still like cars?

    Color me skeptical.

    It’s not a matter of “liking” cars or not, it is a matter of priorities, and young people simply have different priorities today.

    Why buy a new car when a used car can and does the same thing? What car has generated the kind of excitement in young people that the iPhone 5 has?

    That doesn’t mean they don’t find the new Mustang sexy or cool, but beyond buying the car, there are insurance costs, maintaining it, and of course gasoline to consider. Makes that $50 a month iPhone contract seem downright reasonable.

    And the economy needs to recover in a much bigger way before many of these young people move out of mom and dad’s basement, and I don’t see that happening either. Wages are stagnant but productivity is up. At my girlfriend’s gig, rather than hire one full-timer with benefits to assist the boss, they hired two part-timers. Neither of those people will be buying a new car anytime soon.

    We need to stop pretending like the car culture isn’t shrinking. We need to, like the British Empire, manage our decline. Seek out those young people who GENUINELY care about cars, and gather them together. Get out in the public eye again, and make it about cars and nothing else.

    Unfortunately, I have found I cannot hang with many older car enthusiasts at local car shows because many are conservative, gun-toting, Obama-hating old men, which I have no problem with, except they are VERY vocal about it.

    Hey, buddy, I came to talk cars, not politics. No wonder so many young people have abandoned automobiles.

    I don’t mean to seem too down, it just seems hard to believe from where I am sitting. Because right now, as a car guy 90 minutes away from Brooklyn, things look very bleak and lonely indeed.

    • 0 avatar

      The other side of things is to look at when (even if) kids get their licenses. Last I heard, expect to require some other sort of ID to identify a teenager, because you can’t expect them to get a drivers license the moment they turn 16, or even 18.

      When the car magazines can show kids chomping at the bit to start driving, I’ll believe they care about cars again.

    • 0 avatar

      It wasn’t a car magazine. Edmunds analytics division compiled the study using Polk sales data.

      • 0 avatar

        Fair enough, though I remain skeptical none-the-less. It was on these very pages that I read about the subprime auto loan bubble. I’d like to see a study on how many subprime auto loans are going to people 25-34.

        I have a friend who put almost nothing down on a 2013 Hyundai Veloster, and her financial history is sketchy at best. I’d be very surprised if she still had the car a year from now.

  • avatar

    You say “when they grow up.”

    I don’t a lot of them are that interested in that. Even ourselves, in our late 20’s, are in no rush to start a family. I know a lot of the y’s who live that bohemian lifestyle. They cram into a old house, work menial part time jobs, and don’t do much in between.

    Then there are the others like us. Work full time careers, have the house outside the city (actually, outside the burbs), and a driveway full of cars. We don’t come from wealthy back grounds, we wouldn’t be considered highly educated. We just work a lot and have put kids on hold; and I know a lot of other 20’s-couples who are doing the same.

    The disparity between the two ends of the same demographic. Casual observations. I’d like to see more data on that 25-34 crowd. They should be ones starting to make it.

  • avatar

    The sluggish economy is keeping the millennials frugal.

    I like the argument that even some of the most iconoclastic millennials are doomed to turn into their parents, once they have children. Maybe some of them will pull it off without ever owning a motor vehicle. Who knows for sure?

  • avatar

    I can add one data point to the big picture. I just sold my 2003 Celica GT-S to a nice young girl (early 20’s) who was really, really enthusiastic about it. She said she had always loved this particular car, knew a lot about it and asked many intelligent questions before buying. Her two male companions in the Mustang convertible that came with her were also car guys who knew how to examine a used car. So they’re out there and there’s still hope!

  • avatar

    “one day, we will turn into our parents and trade in the chic loft in a gentrified neighborhood for new digs that are more suitable for raising a family. These will likely be in the suburbs, and will necessitate a car.”

    I’m sure it’s comforting for Mr. Rechtin to think so, but I’m not buying it. I’m at the older and more prosperous end of Gen-Y, and most of my friends are 30ish lawyers and bankers with one or two kids. A few of them have moved out to the suburbs, but the majority are living in Brooklyn, Cambridge, Oakland or Chicago where they can walk their strollers to Whole Foods, go out drinking or to a concert and take the subway home – and their neighbors are five to ten years older than they are, with kids in middle school. For what it’s worth, I’m one of the few suburbanites, but I grew up in the suburbs, went to college in the suburbs, and always wanted to be in the suburbs (with a car) as soon as I could afford to. For the rest of them, the ‘burbs simply don’t fit their locavore organic macrobiotic hipster bicycling Pitchfork lifestyles, and won’t for a very long time.

    Oh, and of the two couples that have cars: one couple shares an Accord, the other just bought a Grand Caravan.

    • 0 avatar

      Not every large city has public tranportation like NYC, Chicago, the Bay Area, or Boston. There are plenty of young people that live in other places that need a car to drive to their $35,000/year job. The majority of people that I grew up with or have worked with have cars. There are a lot more 30ish retail employees in middle America than 30ish lawyers in the places you’ve mentioned.

      • 0 avatar

        bball, you’re absolutely right: those people who live in the middle of the country (or LA, or Raleigh-Durham, or Miami) in places where you need a car to get around will buy cars out of necessity. But I disagree with the assumption that those Xers and Yers living in “the chic loft in a gentrified neighborhood” will grow tired of the city and move out to the suburbs. Those millenials I know that can afford to have, by and large, congregated in hip, walkable urban neighborhoods, and I don’t see that as a phase that they’re likely to grow out of.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree. People from gen X or Y that live in walkable urban neighborhoods are less likely to move out to the suburbs than ever before. Even if they have kids, I see it more likely for them to spend money on private school than move to the suburbs or buy a new car.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m not exactly sure you are right. I’ve gone through that exact phase as an X’er growing up in Chicago. I _LOVED_ chicago, esp downtown as I was younger, and into my teens/20’s.

          Then my needs changed.

          I wanted good roads & open space to go biking. I got tired of the politics, taxes, parking issues, and crime in Chicago. I hated being squeezed on top of/next to people that smoked, had loud parties, etc. I didn’t go out to bars/clubs much when I had a full time, early-shift job, 6 days a week & a 24/7 on call schedule every 2nd week. I simply didn’t have time to deal with all the extra crap (eg: “finding” a parking space) that the city bothers you with and I wasn’t making enough to buy a good size condo with indoor/protected parking.

          I moved to the suburbs & outside of the commute (usually relaxing, sometimes long) most of my home stresses have been reduced significantly. I no longer worry about meter parking, loud neighbors, & people smoking pot in the apartment under me.

          I give up all my ethnic restaurants & cultural stuff for time with my son & wife at the park, out riding bicycles on the trails or taking care of the house.

          Sure I miss some things in the city, but I have no regrets. It’s only an hour drive away to go back on the weekend. I can also take the train in about an hour & a half.

          • 0 avatar

            I live in suburb near Chicago, and there are many young Hispanics, African-American and Asian couples with kids. And Euro-American too.

            Brubs are now more ‘diverse’ than ever. And plenty of Thai food places, and actual commuter train service!

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve seen plenty grow out of it…. Our first apartment was in a Suburbia “downtown” deal. Real ritzy, all kinds of restaurants, malls, etc. I’d run into people around our age, who had moved out of their from the real city/down town experience. Some found the older homes to expensive to heat in the winter, others the crime. One girl I knew had one of those all-inclusive loft apartments. She moved out a year later when she realized she could get more for less in the burbs.

          We went from the trendy edge up the burbs into a neighborhood right on the edge of the main city. We still mostly drove, as this city is very car friendly, and the downtown hot spots were within a 10min drive away.

          That lasted a year. Decided we wanted more space (too many cars) and more privacy. So we went past the burbs and out into the country side.

          I personally don’t know anybody young who stayed in the city confides long; especially after they graduate college. It’s a fresh intake of young university students that keep the downtown demographic young.

    • 0 avatar

      Check back with us when those kids grow out of their strollers and into the urban public schools.

      • 0 avatar

        A lot of these kids will probably never set foot in a public school, no matter where they live. But for what it’s worth, the public schools in Park Slope and Cambridge are pretty d### good.

    • 0 avatar

      “A few of them have moved out to the suburbs, but the majority are living in Brooklyn, Cambridge, Oakland or Chicago where they can walk their strollers to Whole Foods, go out drinking or to a concert and take the subway home – and their neighbors are five to ten years older than they are, with kids in middle school.”

      Where I question you is the middle school part — and I’m not buying it based on my experience. With the hardcore “I’m going to live in the city with kids” people, I’ve noticed that as the kids get deeper into elementary school and start getting bigger/taller, and they find they need more than one bathroom, almost all of them start looking at the suburbs, especially if they have more than one kid.

      The problem is that, even if the elementary schools are tolerable in some cities, the middle schools are sometimes dreadful in hipster-favored locations (see Oakland, for example), and the high schools are often downright awful (see again, Oakland). Even in NY, the people who are professionals but not in the top 1% often move to Westchester or some other nice suburb for this reason.

      Even many of the dedicated Gen X city dwellers with kids I know in San Francisco are thinking about moving out. Some of them in SF even cite the weather, given how notoriously bad it can be in most of the city year-round relative to the surrounding area. The city schools are also somewhat questionable once you’re at middle school, and if you don’t get into the top high school.

      If you’re talking about people who can afford private school in Boston, New York, the Bay Area, and Chicago, you’re talking about a pretty elite class of people these days. That’s not just the top 1%, but maybe the top 0.5%. Maybe the bankers can swing that, but you’d have trouble finding too many lawyers who could do it for more than one kid. Even many doctor-types, if they’re not uber-specialists, would have trouble with that for more than one kid.

      By the way, last I checked, Cambridge schools are not that good as a whole. Are you thinking of some specific ones? There’s always a gem or two. Brooklyn has some decent schools, but also a lot of crappy ones.

  • avatar

    I had no interest in cars as a kid, as my parents didn’t either. They _had_ one but it was always 10-20 years old and was whatever a neighbor was selling. TODAY my dad still drives a 1993 buick century wagon.

    Then I went to my first F1 race.

    It was all over then….I now have a sports car, sports bike & read as much as I can on both topics.

    Pretty much both of my brothers (36/30) have no interest in cars as well. They have no reason to, except as a necessary evil to get to work in a timely manner.

    I haven’t yet talked to a person under 20 that really has any interest in cars, except for the son (12) of my friend who took me to F1.

    It’s gotten so bad, IMHO, I can’t even find a “driving school” that will teach stick within about 30 miles of me.

  • avatar

    “one day, we will turn into our parents and trade in the chic loft in a gentrified neighborhood for new digs that are more suitable for raising a family.”

    The elephant in the demographics room is the decline of marriage and family in the US, and a related decline in fertility. Those few that do get married end up divorced. Today, nearly half of children are born out of marriage, putting the mother and child into poverty. Between divorce and illegitimacy rates, around 60+% of new children now come from broken families which is strongly correlated with poor school performance, poverty and crime.

    I’ll avoid the ideological finger pointing and political rants here, because this is a car site. The main point is that these observable, measurable trends have a real affect on the family incomes that can afford cars, or moving to the suburbs to raise a family as hoped for by Derek in the key quote.

    Similarly the European fertility gap (below replacement rate) is part of that car market’s stagnation for the long term, whether the European economy fully recovers and excels or not. This has been noted by TTAC before.

    • 0 avatar

      Well and comprehensively said.

      Personally, I track the growth of our underclass by the number of visible tattoos on new parents.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s an American advantage over Europe. We can thrive with declining/well-under-replacement fertility if xenophobia doesn’t stop us like them. Millions of people want to become Americans every year badly enough to walk across hundreds of miles of desert at risk of being shot.

        • 0 avatar

          “at risk of being shot”

          You’re making us sound like NorKor or East Germany.

          It’s CBP and ICE agents who’ve been getting shot. An illegal immigrant is in mortal peril from traffickers and drug cartels, not American law enforcement.

  • avatar

    I’m 19. I’m graduate with my bachelor’s this December. I already bought a brand new car earlier in the year to replace my 2001 Park Avenue Ultra. I just had a job interview to work at a state prison, and I begin training this January. I am not your typical Gen Y’er, however I think my way of thinking is the same as many, who just don’t know it. Although I’m conservative, wouldn’t be caught in anything but a suit at church on Sunday morning, and I’ll never attend a concert where people actually stand up, I do enjoy being different.

    For my new car, I bought a Smart ForTwo Cabriolet. I’m 6’3″ and I lift weights. Like I said, I’ll be working in a prison. Fortunately, I’m comfortable enough with myself to drive a Smart. When I went to buy a car, I didn’t want something typical, like the Scion Tc’s already littering my campus parking lot, and I certainly did not want anything with a Toyota, Honda, or Kia badge on the front. These brands make good cars (except Kia. I hate Kias.), but I wanted a name, and a unique one at that. Work has been good to me while in school, and I could have bought something like a Lexus, or a Camaro SS. Now, neither of those cars exist in my college’s parking lot, unless they’re at least a decade old, but why would I not settle for a knew one? I would still be the only one driving a car like that. Because when I drove on campus after buying my Smart, dozens of people stopped what they were doing, not just to look at my new car, but to wonder what it was, how it worked, where I bought it, and how much it cost. Months after that day, people still do. People walk up to me, and ask if I’m the Smart guy. I can say with almost absolute certainty that noone else at my college will ever buy one, but I can say that many would like to have it. So, in a nutshell, even though there are many cars that I like very much and could have bought, my car gives me satisfaction besides just the driving experience it offers(which is go-cart like, but fun, essentially). Knowing I have something that none of these other college students have, or will have even when they graduate and go on to make a decent paycheck. That has prevented any kind of buyer’s remorse for me.

    Also, adults stopped next to me at red lights in $100k cars taking pictures and rolling down their windows to ask me a questions is pretty fun. I made both a guy in a S-class, and a woman in a Panamera inquire to how much MY CAR cost in one day

    If me, Mr. Normal, goes and buys a car like this with one of the reasons being it’s attractive uniqueness, then what kind of a car do those who have a desperate need for uniqueness actually desire, without really knowing it? I say, something that the car market has yet to offer. Build my generation something we have never seen before.

    Forgive my rambling. Great article, as usual.

    • 0 avatar


      Your comment made my brain hug itself.
      How I love a principled iconoclast!

      See? Gen Y is full of gems, the problem is they’re a shrinking island in a sea of engineered ghetto mores.

      ” ..I’ll never attend a concert where people actually stand up..”

      Exquisite. :-D

      And my Proessorin D-in-Law has a smart car. Perfect tool for her commute, wisely chosen.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a logical fallacy to use “New Smart Car” and “Responsible Car Purchase” in the same thought.

        Systematically, for the price, utility, operational expenses, maintenance expenses, and comparable market options, you have made a poor decision on a vanity vehicle. That you feel the need to talk about your emotional security while driving the car subtly suggests that something else is afoot under your skin.

        And shame on you summicron for your ideological stereotyping. It’s ignorant putzes like you that dumped us in this social mire in the first place. NIMBY.

        • 0 avatar

          Judging by the urine on the rug, I’ve somehow displeased you.

          Don’t fret, I’ll get a cloth.

          • 0 avatar

            Summicron, thanks for the complements. I try to keep it interesting.

            Ellomdian, a Smart may not be a logical choice for you, but I’m a college student who wants a nice car (ie leather, stability control, etc), but not just a regular econobox. That makes the Smart a good choice for me. I’m not sure what high operational expenses you are referring to in a Smart, besides gas, which got cut in half after trading my Buick. Also getting a brand new convertible with a warranty and FREE maintenance for two years for under $20k sounds pretty good to me. You can’t choose everyone else’s car for them.

        • 0 avatar
          Compaq Deskpro

          This is not true, Smarties make for reliable 40 MPG daily drivers, and they have astonishing head and leg room. I know someone who is a car guy who owns one.

  • avatar

    Slightly tangential, but at a recent car show I was heartened to see a handful of young guys bringing their classic rides.

    Usually the only guys (and it’s almost all men) you see anymore are getting grey or have been for a while.

    • 0 avatar

      Go down to Ossington Street on a weekend night and there are plenty of classic cars being driven by bearded hipsters. The hobby is far from dead, I’m telling you.

      • 0 avatar

        If bearded hipsters are into classic cars, then the hobby is dead to me…

        Until the Woodward Dream Cruise starts, and I fall in love with classic cars all over again. I’ll even let TTAC contributors park in my driveway for free.

        • 0 avatar

          “If bearded hipsters are into classic cars, then the hobby is dead to me…”

          Anyone who judges people solely by their appearance is dead to me.

          Some of my closest acquiantances are bearded hipster looking guys (although many cross the line into bearded biker looking guys) and are some of the most knowledgeable and skilled hot rod builders I’ve ever met.

          • 0 avatar

            I was being facetious. As long as people like cars, and keep car culture going, I don’t care who they are.

            The same goes for things like craft beer and food.

          • 0 avatar

            Good to hear. Sometimes facetiousness and sarcasm doesn’t come through on the internet.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s true, the hobby and lifestyle live on with the new generation. I had my slammed ’63 Thunderbird at a street rod show over the weekend with my wife and two young kids. I was easily 25-30 years younger the average car owner in the show, but I wasn’t alone.

        This weekend I’ll be at a traditional hot rod show (think period correct rat rod type cars) in Michigan. The traditional hot rod scene is being hugely revived by younger guys (and gals) in their 20s and 30s. I’d say they easily make up half or more of the owners at these shows.

        So no, classics and hot rods aren’t dead to the next generation at all.

        • 0 avatar

          In the Detroit area, the rat rod scene is big with people in their 20s and 30s. Maybe its something about the rusted patina of a rat rod that mimics post-industrial Detroit.

  • avatar

    Young people build hundreds of tiny, innovative custom cars per year, but I don’t see any Formula SAE coverage on TTAC.

    In the past decade a competitive car has gone from a 500-lb car shrinkwrapped around a tiny driver powered by a 600cc four to a 350-lb car with decent cockpit area powered by a 450cc single.

  • avatar

    I was one of those people who bought a sleek urban penthouse in my pre-children days. It’s a post-modern minimalist marvel, and pretty close to being my dream home. My home was the tuned acoustical chamber of my hi-fi system. I used it for sleeping, eating, and bathing as well. Life was good.

    Then the kids came.

    Now I have a downstairs neighbor who hates my guts for helping spawn rampaging little feet; walls with paint peeled off the wall by toddler hands; punctured laminate flooring from things dropped on a material designed for family duty; toys strewn across my minimalist interior; and the long trek of hauling family groceries from the car up to my condo.

    I still wouldn’t trade this for suburban hell. I’d rather plumb the depths of hell with my subwoofer.

  • avatar

    Thanks Derek for finding this and pointing it out. In a country like mine, whenever research is carried out with consumers (and not just young ones) about what’s their dream purchase, invariably a house is the first, and a car second.

    Fact of the matter is that (specially here) when one has a least a small part of their foot and the ground, and don’t live off of environmental selling points, this is a fact that goes without saying.

  • avatar

    I’m 30 and I just bought a 13′ Boss 302. That being said in my area I am a rarity. Of all the husbands/guys in my group of friends, exactly 2 actually like cars. The rest could care less. In the extended group of women my wife met at childrens events at the library, the number is even less. Of about 14 couples, exactly 1 husband is into cars. Its really disappointing honestly. I dont doubt that interest is waining.

  • avatar

    I write cars off like boats. 10 Years ago we had the baby boomers who could afford a decent size boat, so lots of them had these larger boats, I recall seeing them sail down the river every day. But as they got older (people) and the economy took a hit, so did the boating industry as a whole. Now you see a lot less boats, and those that have them are the left over baby boomers. Not many new up and coming families can afford a boat, would they like one, sure, but the current stagnation of pay and increased inflation certainly stop them. It’s really the same with cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Generation Y/Millenial New Slogan?:

      “If it floats, flies, f*cks or drives, you’re better off either renting or foregoing it.”

      In the world I see – you’re stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.

  • avatar

    Somewhat surprisingly my 10 year old daughter wants a car. But then I live in a suburb and she doesn’t like riding a bike everywhere, unlike the rest of the family. My son (almost 15) also wants a car, but he wants to go to an urban college so it will probably wait. Personally, as a 47 year old I’d like to buy a new car but I’m short of money and can get to work cheaper by train. I don’t see many new car purchases from my family any time soon, although my sister does take up some of the slack by following the traditional pattern of turning over her cars every 4 years.

  • avatar

    To add a data point:

    24 years old, I was lucky enough to find a job right out of college with my engineering degree, but not the fancy $70k entry level position in industry I was gunning for. I started with my inherited 1998 MPV, and after 8 months saved up enough to buy a used 2012 Civic (taking out a small loan to do so). I now landed my dream job in industry and will have significantly more income, but I am apprehensive about going out and trading up to a sporty/luxurious new car. Instead, I’m saving up for the ‘suburban dream’ as it were.

    I grew up with my brother totally enthralled with cars, any and all kinds. My dad was a DIY mechanic by necessity back in Russia, keeping our Zaporozhets on the road by spending his weekends in the garage and chasing after black market batteries and oil. Back in high school and much of college I considered myself an enthusiast in the Jalopnik mold of being a stick shift and hot hatch evangelist. Now I appreciate any and all cars for what they are good at, from Priuses to Grand Caravans to Caterhams. I look forward to family van/SUV shopping when the time comes.

    • 0 avatar

      “Back in high school and much of college I considered myself an enthusiast in the Jalopnik mold of being a stick shift and hot hatch evangelist. Now I appreciate any and all cars for what they are good at, from Priuses to Grand Caravans to Caterhams. I look forward to family van/SUV shopping when the time comes.”


  • avatar

    I have a friend who has bought, in almost perfect alternating order, for his personal cars, a Honda, then a Toyota, a Honda, then a Toyota, etc, going back to the late 70’s or so, all 4 cyl autos. His kids rode in these cars, or mom’s endless streams of base model Subarus, Mitsubish Ecplipses, and her worst car, a VW Passat that was so well known at the VW dealer that they would just put their last name in the customer info area on the invoices when they still wrote them up. There are 3 kids, all boys, and the most exciting car they’ve ever ridden in was their uncle’s base 1998 V6 Camaro, and that was only a couple of times. Last week, he needed a ride to the dealership to pick up his Accord, after being fixed after a hit and run sideswipe. His two youngest kids got in the back of my Challenger, and they loved the noise it makes (Catback exhaust)and getting pushed back in the seat when I got on it. Now dad is getting the business from the kids wanting him to buy a Challenger or at least a Charger, and not get another “boring” car like he always buys. He’s planning on giving the Accord to his oldest kid when he graduates college in Jan, so he’s got 6 months of nagging to suffer through.

  • avatar

    “…go out drinking or to a concert and take the subway home…”

    There it is, one of the main reasons inner city is popular. Can get drunk and cab it or take ‘El’ or Metro. How about saving ‘drinking $’ for future?

    Chicago has more cabs on its streets than ever, and most are crawling the North Side when bars close on weekends. “Pour me into a cab”!

    I know a few 30ish aquaintences who post on Facebook how they ‘lost thier iPhone and don’t remember what happened last night’.

    Gettin drunk and taking cabs all over is not ‘green’. All those cabs idling waiting to take the aging frat boys/sorority sisters to thier apts is not ‘earth friendly’.

  • avatar

    Passion for cars always exists – the difference is that cost pressures and environmental awareness means that we don’t want to NEED a car. Driving to work is like being in an expensive jail. Having a car available for other purposes is freedom.

    In the end most of us will need a car though, because it’s hard to afford a decent home in a good city. But you don’t need a decent home until you start a family, and debt and living with parents is pushing that out into our thirties.

  • avatar

    I suppose I’m technically Gen Y (31, born in 1981). My fiance is Gen X (34, born in 1978).

    Together we make well over $100K/year, but we don’t spend a lot on cars. I have a paid off Scion tC, she has a paid off Versa. I’ve traded in too many cars in the past: I made stupid choices and was on my 3rd new car by age 25 (not to mention married before), but at this point, we have zero debt between the two of us.

    Now? I can have fun in my paid off stick shift tC, or on my bought-outright Triumph Bonneville. She couldn’t care less about cars as long as they hold stuff from craft shows and antique malls. We’d both rather spend the money on experiences than depreciating transportation.

    Every now and then, I see something that looks like fun (BMW 3-series coupe, Challenger, Mustang, for example) but I’d rather not deal with a $500+ monthly payment after busting my tail to pay off my tC in two years. I also ask myself, “Would I rather have a V8 in the driveway but no stamps in my passport?” SOOO many people get strung out on car loans, but never take a vacation; no thank you!

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