Generation Why: 2013 Even Worse For Young Car Buyers, But The Dream Is Still Alive

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
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generation why 2013 even worse for young car buyers but the dream is still alive

A study by Edmunds on the buying habits of millennials shows that 2013 was not a particularly good year for young car buyers. Despite making good headway in 2012, 2013 saw those gains practically eroded, as a weak job market and rising home prices helped stymie any growth in market share for automotive consumers aged 18-34.

The Edmunds study adds support to the two major points that Generation Why has been propagating from the start: that the lack of interest in cars among young people is largely rooted in poor economic prospects, and that their interest in the automobile goes beyond utilitarian considerations

Millennials’ car-buying patterns in 2012 and in 2013 both lend support to the theory that their weaker car-buying compared to previous generations stems from economic constraints rather than from a preference to not drive. Plus, what they bought in 2013 continues to suggest that Millennials do see cars as more than a means to get around. Even with their decreased share of overall sales in 2013, Millennials did not slack off on buying luxury and sports cars. The share of Millennial purchases from the luxury segment increased slightly. And, in every income group except the highest ($150,000 and over), aged 25-to-34 Millennials continued to buy luxury cars to a similar extent or more as older buyers with same income. Likewise, in nearly every income group, 18-to-24 year old Millennials continued to purchase a greater share of entry and midrange sports cars than the older buyers. These Millennial buying choices suggest an interest in cars that will translate into more purchases when economic conditions allow, just as in 2012.

Edmunds Chief Economist Lacey Plache raises an interesting point: new car sales among young people could continue to disappoint as the economic recovery passes them by. If this is the case, then OEMs should being to take notice. Not just that the oft-cited meme of “kids aren’t into cars” is false, but that a whole segment of the population is being systematically shut out of buying a new car. Rather than continuing to push high-content subcompact and compact cars at Generation Y, perhaps it might be time to shift gears to something simpler and more robust, but with the “cheap chic” appeal of a brand like H&M or Zara. Perhaps a brand like Mitsubishi could reinvent itself as the “frugalista” option, and borrow some product from that other fashionably cheap brand they are now in an alliance with…

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Nov 08, 2013

    With vehicles subsidised at $3 000 each, barriers, $85 billion a month pumped into the economy, extremely long loans and cheap leases, the US really needs to have a deep and meaningful look at where it is heading. Youth unemployment is high and the middle class is declining. From what I've read second hand vehicle prices are relatively high as well. No longer can you go out and buy that $200 car. Then the cost and expertise required to repair a vehicle to become road worthy costs more due to technological advances. The young don't have the opportunities that were offered to previous generations ie, buy a $hitter and repair it. It's harder to attain that American Dream. How far can the US vehicle sales increase. As vehicles become less accessible, they will become more an appliance so you don't walk. The 'Golden Era' of the motor vehicle in the US as an expression of the American Dream is changing and transforming taking on a new and different meaning. The status of the car in the US has changed. The old and the car enthusiast like on TTAC could be living in the past in some ways.

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    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Nov 08, 2013

      @28 Cars Later We don't have electricity, only America does.

  • Danwat1234 Danwat1234 on Jun 16, 2014

    I'm 28 now and I plan on owning a red Chevy Volt with blue plastidipped front grille within a few years when the 2013s get down to 15K or so. Young people should buy used cars, and this way it doesn't have to be an ugly econobox but a sexy one.

  • Analoggrotto Buyers are skipping these in droves and heading down to sign the golden paperwork for a new Telluride. ATPs speak volumes and we have 'em. Our customers are telling us that we offer Mercedes quality for a better deal, and our suite of luxury features rivals any luxury automaker. Insult me all you want, but AVMs, DSDs and BSODs tell the truth.
  • Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
  • Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
  • Kyl65759578 👋
  • ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.