By on June 7, 2017

cars on a street, public domain

There has been plenty of doomsday prophecies surrounding the automotive industry in the last year, based largely upon the assumption that younger drivers are less willing to support it or simply cannot afford to. Stupid, right? Not really. While the direness of the situation is often exaggerated, plenty of evidence exists to underscore the impending troubles of the new car market. Whether it’s because those in their salad days don’t care as much about cars as their elders or simply have less disposable income (hint: it’s the second one), real change is coming for OEMs.

Younger shoppers are noticeably more likely to purchase used vehicles than their more venerable contemporaries are, but “young” is a relative term — especially in this instance. According to a recent study, 53.7 percent of prospective buyers under forty plan on getting a used car the next time they need wheels. For those over forty, that number is 49.7 percent. As you’d expect older people to buy more new cars, this much of a disparity at mid-life is significant. 

The survey, conducted by AutoList, surveyed over 9,000 vehicle owners to determine their future buying preferences. Its findings concluded that 38 percent of all buyers planned to purchase a used vehicle, compared to the 34 percent who anticipate buying new and 27 percent who hadn’t made up their mind.

Data compiled by the U.S. Federal Reserve shows the average age of new vehicle buyers increasing by almost 7 years between 2000 and 2015, with the largest increase occurring during the Great Recession. While anecdotal articles like to assume the overall shift is simply down to a Millennial apathy toward consumer goods, new vehicles bought by 16- to 34-year-olds declined by about 6 percent during that time period. Meanwhile, the number of used cars bought by those between the ages of 35 and 49 dropped by 9 percentage points.

Those numbers have stabilized in the years following the recession, but the likelihood of those younger groups filling the gap as older generations age out of the market is debatable. There’s no assurance they’ll be ready to bolster the domestic market when their parents become too old to drive. It likely won’t put swaths of auto manufacturers out of business but, if the start of 2017 is anything to go by, there should be an extended cooling off period.

AutoList ownership graph 2017, Image: Autolist

According to the AutoList survey, newer generations not only want to buy used, they also plan to own their cars for a shorter period. Roughly 60 percent of the the youngest demographic and 47 percent of millennials expect to own their next vehicle for less than five years. Comparatively, the age groups you’d expect to purchase newer vehicles more often — and have the funding to do so — want to hang on to their vehicles a little longer. Only 40 percent of Gen Xers and 39 percent of Boomers plan to replace their current rides at the mid-decade mark.

Breaking the demographic data down by brand indicates some automakers might have it better than others, assuming brand loyalty holds at current levels. The majority of Cadillac, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW owners claim they intend to purchase a new vehicle within five years. Subaru’s immediate future also looks bright. While 73.6 percent of its clientele stated they’ll be keeping their Subie for more than five years, they also said they’d replace it with a new model.

Luckily for Subaru, the brand yields some of the highest repeat business on the market.

[Image: AutoList]

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98 Comments on “Shaping a Bleaker Future: Generational Trends in New Car Ownership...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    It’s hard to get excited about buying a new car when new cars are quickly becoming more and more monotonous. It’s the vehicular form of ambien, only you have to pay $20k and are forced to drive it because there are no choices for interesting vehicles. I literally just watched a commercial from a local Kia dealership that was advertising for customers to “Buy a Kia, get a Harley”. It’s gone too far at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What are you talking about. A little more than $20K will put you in a Civic Sport, Fiesta ST, Fit, Elantra Sport etc…. all legitimately fun cars.

      This whole “everything used to be sooooo much better” hipster refrain is sooooo played out. Modern cars are really really good.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “Civic Sport, Fiesta ST, Fit, Elantra Sport etc…. all legitimately fun cars.”

        Haha, you should put the /sarcasm as the bottom, someone might think your being serious.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          *you’re

          And as dismissive as you are of what other people genuinely consider fun, you can also get a single cab Hemi Ram for 25k. Happy?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Regardless of how those cars perform, the designs of them produce coma like symptoms on the people that see them.
            But let’s be honest, I’ve driven/been driven in so called “hot” hatches, where is the enjoyment? The power is poorly placed throughout the rev range and is scarcely available when needed, the cars have limited grip through corners due to such narrow tires needed to keep the tiny engine able to produce a semblance of power. And they are already strung out so high that the ability to put down real power is off the table. They are compromise after compromise – needed to produce a car to a price point rather than a performance goal post.

            But again my original post had nothing to do with performance, a few performance vehicles still exist, few and far but they are there. My original post lamented the poor design being forced on the buying public. “Fun” was never a word I used in my original post.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Your original post lamented a lack of interesting vehicles. You never specified the source of boring, leaving it open to reasonable interpretation. You’re going to have to be more specific about these things so we can all clearly know what you’re telling us to think.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Hmm, I can see that. My fault.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            “The power is poorly placed throughout the rev range and is scarcely available when needed”

            What on Google Earth are you talking about? How is power from engines with peak torque available from under 2000RPM up past 4000-5000 “poorly placed” for driving on the street? Do you shift at 1000 RPM? Can you point to this past era where affordable cars had more accessible powerbands please?

            “the cars have limited grip through corners due to such narrow tires”

            Again, what the hell are you talking about? All these cars have more cornering grip than, for example, my 350Z did, which gripped tenaciously through corners. And many of them have (front) tires just as wide, while weighing several hundreds of lbs less. How much grip do you need on the street? 2gs?

            Stop regurgitating contrarian internet nonsense.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Again, what the hell are you talking about?”

            he’s regurgitating what he’s read online from people who have never driven the cars either.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I have to agree with sporty here. Hummer if you had said the current crop of cars had an issue with not being visceral enough, I’d agree in full. But in terms of performance, today’s hot hatches/sport compacts wipe the floor with their predecessors.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Fiesta ST has 180 HP at 6,500 RPM, Nothing wrong with having your power at the very top, but at least put some power to the car on the way up. The Firsta ST has 8 in wide in wide tires, an impala has 9 inch wide tires. An Impala isn’t sold as a sporty grippy car.

            Of course they wipe the floor of their predecessor, the predecessors to so called “hot” hatches are Yugo’s of the 80s and neons of the 90’s. Jeez I sure as hell hope they can beat that low bar.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The modern twin-scroll turbo motors have insanely flat torque curves and make a ton of their power down low. I don’t get what you’re comparing to, you just keep moving goal posts and not making any sense quite frankly.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            A 6500 RPM power peak is too high for a hot hatch? Where do you want peak power to be and what hot hatches have ever delivered peak power that low? Do you even understand how horsepower and torque are related?

            And 8 inch wide wheels are too narrow? Again, for what? What hot hatches of the past have 9 inch wide wheels? Keep digging yourself deeper, this is quite enjoyable.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Sporty your making this too easy

            “6500 RPM power peak is too high for a hot hatch? ”

            Show me where I said that.

            The point with the tires is, the cars that they are attached to make very little power, using smaller width tires to make more use of the power destroys the cars handling; and increasing width to get better handling and more power down is useless because the tires drag the already low power numbers down even more.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Hummer, the Fiesta ST’s engine is hardly lacking power on the way up… it’s underrated, first of all, putting down about 185HP and 220lb-ft at the wheels (way more than the 190/205 it’s rated for at the crank), and that 220lb-ft is available over the 1/3 of the rev range you will spend 90% of your time on the street in (2000-4000 RPM). It makes more than 150lb-ft at the wheels from 2000 to redline. What hot hatch of the past that cost ~$20K can you say that about?

            You keep talking about tires being small…. Civic Sport (not even the Si) has 235 width tires. Again, what hot hatches of the past had wider tires? You claim the “small” tires “destroy” the cars’ handling- can you point to any reviewers saying that? Because every review I’ve heard about the latest crop of hot hatches says their handling is excellent. And where did you test drive these cars to see what they were like at the limits of their handling? You are full of it man.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Holy hell dude, I never said hot hatches had better iterations in the past, I have never seen someone with such a hard on for a gd penalty box. I even said above they originate from similar crappy cars from the 80s and 90s. I never said that other competing penalty boxes did it better than any one in particular.

            Your getting upset about assumptions you want to believe I’m making, hint I’m not. Telling me how great the cars are because they make 150 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm (as if torque is the main issue in lightweight economy car) isn’t going to suddenly impress me when we’re talking about a car that’s being sold as sporty.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “sporty”Accord with his raging bullish!t again.

        We’ve entered a new malaise era where anonymous blob-like CUVs and square, large pickup trucks comprise 75% of the newish vehicles that ply the highways and byways.

        Yes, there a few exceptions at affordable or relatively affordable price points, such as V8 Mustangs, Chargers, Stingrays, VW THIs, the performance versions of Audis and such, but for the most part, the roads are filled with vehicles as exciting as Chevy Equinoxes and Toyota RAV-4s, 4 cylinder Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys, blocky Silverados and F150s, etc.

        Meh. And meh to Honda, too, which not only has milquetoast vehicles, but now sees its calling card, quality and long-term reliability circling the drain.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          When has there EVER been a time where the majority of cars on the road were exciting? Crawl back into your hole.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            them rose-tinted specs again. Some people love to believe that back in the ’60s and early ’70s the roads were filled with 454SS Chevelles, Hemi Roadrunners, and Boss 429 Mustangs, but in reality most cars were sixes or small V8s.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Ha, I was watching the old Road & Track review of a ’69 Impala the other night. It had a 396 V8, so it was a rip-snorting monster, right? Nope: sluggish 2-barrel carb and 1/4 mile in 19 seconds.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            No one says all cars need to be exciting, but how about a few? We are in an era of automotive design malaise.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Hummer did you sleep through the Hellcat releases, Mustang GTs and Camaros with 400hp+ engines with even more potent variants readily available? Regular rank and file compact cars with mid 6-second 0-60s? We’re in a veritable Golden Age of horsepower and performance right now.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “No one says all cars need to be exciting, but how about a few? We are in an era of automotive design malaise.”

            I post this same quote again, because I did not say anything about power output anywhere in the above quote you replied to. Keyword: design.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Fair enough, but then you had your whole power delivery and tire width/grip diatribe that made no sense so people honed in on that.

          • 0 avatar

            Back in the day, most of those V8 cars had a two barrel. I had a friend whose mom had a Ford Torino (Starchy and Hutch car) in beige, with a 2 bbl/460 IIRC.

            I recall doing an engine swap in high school for the 350 pontiac motor that had never seen an oil change before I got the car. We bolted in a 400/4bbl, but we had to call around to find one….there were zillions of 2 bbl engines out there….

            My 73 Nova with a straight six was more typical.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “We’re in a veritable Golden Age of horsepower and performance right now.”

            Horsepower and performance? Yes.
            Overall excitement? I’m not as sure on that.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            ajla I absolutely agree. Note my differentiation between visceral feelings and performance. I accidentally end up accelerating to 80 on country roads in things like rental Kia Sorentos with the 3.3L V6, it’s just so darn quiet and powerful.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Those of us arguing the point that a new boredom in design, styling, driving dynamics (with few exceptions), aren’t pointing to horsepower/torque as the be-all and end-all as a metric of such boredom, as that’s the one metric whereby improvement has obviously been made.

            And we’re not saying vehicles from the 70s or 80s were better (the 70s and early 80s were the definition of malaise).

            We’re claiming that automotive goodness jn terms of exterior design, interior quality, steering feel, NVH, overall driving dynamics, and in many cases, reliability, were better, depending on the manufacturer and model, in the early 1990s to mid 2000s.

            Let’s consider the following manufacturers’ vehicles from one, past time frame to the current one:

            Acura – 1992 to 2004 vs today

            BMW – 1994 to 2008 vs today

            Toyota – 1992 to 1998 vs today

            Lexus- 1988 to 2004 vs today

            Nissan – 1990 to 1998 vs today

            Honda -1994 to 2002 vs today

            These are just a few of the fallen angels.

            Let’s also do this ‘thought exercise:’

            Close your eyes, relax, and imagine driving on a flat, smooth highway at 75mph.

            Picture the following new vehicles surrounding you and matching your speed during this journey: A Nissan Altima, Honda CR-V, Chevy Malibu, Ford F-150, Buick Enclave, Acura RLX, BMW X5, Cadillac CTS, Nissan Rogue, GMC Terrain, BMW 335, Mercedes GLA, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Sorrento, Toyota Camry, Audi Q5, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Journey, Toyota Highlander, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Lincoln MKC, Cadillac XTS, Nissan Maxima, Acura ILX-whatever, Lexus ES350, Mercedes CLA, Volkswagen Passat…

            You should have been asleep a long time ago. Cut out the caffeine.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Driving down a flat straight highway at 75 in any car outside of something like an Excocet is going to be a snooze fest. Again, crawl back into your hole, you sound ridiculous.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “exterior design, interior quality, steering feel”

            DW I’ll give you those for sure. Add to that paint quality in many cases (namely Toyota from my experience). But NVH, suspension tuning, and yes reliability are on the whole largely improved (with perhaps a few outliers, I’d be curious to hear of what these outliers are).

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Hummer,
      Is your comment a troll?

      How can you make such a claim?

      Vehicle choice this day and age is fantastic compared to 25 years ago.

      FE, reliability, power, handling and on and on is superior.

      I remember as a teenager and early twenties if you wanted perfomance it cost. You ended up modifying a vehicle to suit yourself.

      A new Corolla will beat most any stock V8 family car from the 70s.

      Choices this day and age are that good you pretty much buy “off the shelf” a cheap car that will put a grin on your face.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Is my comment a troll?

        Wut?

        How many times do I have to say I’m talking about design, I never brought up performance someone else did, I piggybacked on that but never did I imply issue with where automotive technology has brought us. And before someone jumps on that last sentence let me point out that hot hatches use bottom barrel technology to sell for a predetermined price point. They are not representative of technological advances that exist.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          What exactly are you talking about? Because every time you cite something specific and someone refutes it you claim you never made that point. What specifically would make cars exciting to you again? It can’t be power, even though you specifically brought up power. It can’t be handling, even though you specifically brought up handling. What exactly is your gripe with modern cars? Bad dealer commercials?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “What specifically would make cars exciting to you again?”

            Improved (nonspeaker generated) mechanical noises, wilder exterior color offerings, better under hood engine presentation, longer/wider styling, and sharper throttle response.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Sporty,
            How about a design that doesn’t scream cheap and boring, like I’ve repeated 10x. How about real materials and not simulated looks, how about getting rid of the awful front ends adorning every modern car. Design a car for looks and not fuel efficiency. I don’t want a car with a tall front that reaches down to 3 inches off the ground as if it were a slammed dump truck. Quite the similar awful rear ends that slope ahead of the passenger sitting position, the high trunk lids that destroy visibility. As said above longer and wider cars that allow for interiors to be comfortable places to be.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          With the possible exception of exotics all modern cars are designed to a price point.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            It wasn’t too long ago that manufacturers didn’t make cars feel as if they were designed to a price point – of course they are but the goal of a good auto is to make the consumer feel they bought a good quality vehicle that provides them with more then they need.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    If I have to hear one more time about how mellennials don’t like having cars or houses or kids I’m going to blow my brains out. Yeah the economy has been hollowed out for the middle class and most people can’t afford a new car payment every five years.

    So yeah auto makers welcome to the party.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      pics.onsizzle.com/welcome-to-the-party-pal-19282323.png

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Millennial car buying patterns don’t seem to be much different from prior generations. When you are young you tend to buy used (cheaper) vehicles and trade them more frequently. As you get older you tend to buy new/newer and keep vehicles longer. This has gone on since people began buying cars and probably will continue until car sharing really takes off.

      The media seems to be desperate to find a “millennial culture shift” angle to any piece of information, maybe to generate social media buzz. But there is really nothing to see here.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Cars also last longer. Our Mazda 3 is 7 years old and runs just as well as it did the day we bought it with zero non-scheduled maintenance in 85,000 miles. There is no functional reason to sell it, just superficial ones like wanting more car, more features, or boredom.

  • avatar
    ToyotaSequoia02

    I’m a teacher and gen X. I can’t afford any new cars I’m interested in. My only option is to buy used or drive an econobox. I’m not going to spend 20K on a brand new car that’s boring to drive. Right now I have a Sequoia, A Camry SE (Stick!) and a CRV. Only the Camry is fun to drive, the other two are utilitarian. Both my Camry and Sequoia are 15 years old, CRV is 3 years old.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We certainly can afford new cars, and float a new car payment – we simply choose not to. It is going to take a huge stick of dynamite to get me to buy a new vehicle, with the deprecation hit you take alone, at this point in my life.

    My last new car purchase was 8 years ago, and it is still sitting in the garage. The newest vehicle in our motorpool is 6 years old, the oldest is 32 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      Same situation here. Just had the timing belt changed on our 11 year old Odyssey today, runs like a charm. We could buy a new ’18 model with cash, but that would be incredibly dumb and short sighted. A used cars is a much cheaper alternative, if you take good care of it.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’m of the same mindset. I just can’t stomach seeing that depreciation. If/when I truly need a modern family vehicle that doesn’t need fiddling with and is up to date on safety equipment, I will have no problems buying one (outright with cash if I need to). Until then I’m riding the craigslist carousel. Have had lots of fun in the last 2 years buying/fixing/driving/flipping a $1600 ’00 Maxima, followed by a $1600 ’96 ES300, and currently a $1700 ’97 Ranger. The Ranger has been absolutely indispensable for my landscaping and patio project and has kind of opened Pandora’s box as far as pick up truck ownership goes. Come winter I may end up with something cushier and back into the realm of sedans. Tossing around the idea of a Town Car, or maybe a ’95-99 Maxima (with less rust this time). Even thought about a W210 Merc.

      Not going to lie, it is tempting to consider scooping up a newer comfy cruiser/commuter like a several year old Avalon or (gasp) a Charger.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        IMO, I’d skip the W210. They were notorious rust monsters even outside the salt belt, and embodied the ’90s panicked cost-cutting that MB indulged in. Find a nice ’99-04 Avalon (the ’05-12s were cheap inside).

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          W210s have a poor reputation online (the rust thing is true), but in the real world I think they are much less troublesome than the fabled W124s preceding them, and are not in the realm of complex BS of the W211s.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The survey has a margin of error of +- 2%, so the difference between 53.7 and 49.7 is not significant.

    Given the fact that the used car market is over twice the size of the new car market, there are a lot of liars in this survey or the survey is sh*t.

  • avatar
    brn

    I congratulate AutoList for attempting to publish their survey methodology. I shame them for it being a poor attempt. How was the survey conducted? I suspect (they don’t tell us) it was based on responses from subscribers. There’s no reason to believe this pool is an accurate representation of the public as a whole. The survey is worthless.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    Buying used (within reason) is almost always a smart move if you are choosy and exacting. Between my wife and I our combined income is a hair over $165k (though we get butchered on those damn taxes) and we are in our late twenties. I personally choose to buy used so that someone takes the depreciation hit. I can afford new but I don’t want new.

    I could also afford a more expensive car but I am more than happy with my 2013 Chrysler 200. My colleagues at work all drive Lexus, Audi and BMWs and ask me “why a ‘Sebring 2.0′” but I tell them its paid off, suits me well, and I actually prefer it over what they have.

    I could be a millionaire or billionaire and still buy used because I figure I can always put the money I save to good use (and I have). I also hate dealing with dealerships and the little shenanigans they pull in the F&I office. Saying no is not sufficient, they will bring it up again. It’s annoying.

    My wife prefers buying new. However, the large down payment offsets a long loan term, and its a her car, her payments type of thing.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      It’s easy to say “you should always buy used” when you drive a piece of garbage no one else wants like a Chrysler 200; yes, they depreciate like used condoms. But if you are shopping for a vehicle on the top-10 best seller list like an Accord, Camry, Civic, CRV, etc etc, you’ll find the “savings” from buying used just isn’t there. if you’re a “buy and hold” type buying a Japanese CUV or sedan, there is a tiny premium for buying new and it is far outweighed by the peace of mind knowing how the car you are going to drive for the next 8-10 years was treated in its first year of life.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Works until you’re out of warranty with some of today’s automotive wonders.

      • 0 avatar
        PentastarPride

        I could have bought a Camry, Accord, etc., etc., but I was dead set on the 200. I’ve always been a Mopar guy and the 200 is a great little car, especially on commutes.

        I cannot understand why there’s the notion that the 200 is a “piece of garbage”. If it’s because of the Sebring, well the Sebring was decent. The interior could have used a lot of help but it was still a a solid car.

        I’ve never had an issue with mine, these are poised to be Camry reliable. Sure, it may not sell for 80% of its MSRP at five years and 100k miles like a Toyota, but it doesn’t bother me because I’m in it for the long term.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          “I cannot understand why there’s the notion that the 200 is a “piece of garbage”.”

          I had one for a week – it was noisy, relatively slow, small back seat, small trunk, the shifter mechanism was awful and the seats were not designed for more than an hour long drive without experiencing some pain.

          I was ok with the ride quality, the interior design, fuel efficiency and the stereo.

          I liked the huge center console space.

          I wouldn’t go so far as to call the 200 garbage, but there’s no way in hell I’d ever consider buying it and I go out of my way to avoid renting it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I agree. Not “garbage” but substantially sub-par compared to the usual suspects. They’re endearing in their own way, I think of the Avenger with the Pentastar as the spiritual successor to the early 90s K-car Duster with the Mitsubishi 3.0L shoehorned in. Not a particularly ‘nice’ car, but a cheap car that can really scoot and in its own right more interesting than something like a Camry/Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            They’re garbage relative to the top sellers in the class, Camry and Accord. And some others like the 6. And even the Fusion.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The 200 is a gussied-up Dart, and the Dart really needed another 18-24 months of development work to clean up a number of design oversights.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      You either have bad credit, bad taste, or a combination of both.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Age has nothing to do with it and income is only a secondary factor. My wife and I just bought an AWD Toyota Sienna for vacation trips. We are in our early 70s and could write a check for a new one. We were planning to do just that when I came across a three-year-old example with 40k miles for two thirds the price of a new one. What we saved buying it, instead of a new one, will pay for our trips for the next two years.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Fair enough, but I’d argue that 10 years/120k miles is give-or-take what most people expect to get out of a car, so you bought a car for 2/3rds the price, but you’re also only getting 2/3rds the expected life. If you’re cool with that, great, but keep both eyes open on what you did.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Unless you are putting a lot of mileage on a vehicle or get a fantastic lease deal and want a new vehicle every couple of years it is a waste of money to get a new or even a newer used vehicle every 5 years or less. Better to keep a vehicle at least 10 years and maintain it than to get a newer vehicle every 5 years or less. I currently have a vehicle that I bought new over 18 years ago and have maintained it. It has actually cost me very little in maintenance and my licensing fees are much less since licensing is based on blue book value of a vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Fifteen+ years ago you could “buy” a new (mainstream) car/truck and keep it going forever basically. Smart move/investment. But do you really want to be stuck with an old (2018+) vehicle with 20+ processors/modules, 10+ airbags, 40+ sensors, 2 turbos, variable cam timing, etc, to go south?

      “Leasing” is starting to sound better with each new generation. A perpetual treadmill payments.

      Or seek out a 2004-ish “classic” car/truck/pickup (Jeep, pony car, hot hatch, etc) with one owner, cared for low miles. The money it’ll make you everyday (vs endless payments) can start to snowball. If it doesn’t satisfy the “pride of ownership” thing, budget a few $1,000s to custom upgrade/mod the thing to your tastes and enjoyment.

      But I’d call it “backlash” against all the built in “obsolescence” they’re cramming into every type of vehicle now, whether CAFE/CARB/NHTSA induced or not.

      Plus 10+ year old vehicles are better than they’ve ever been historically.

      I know of 2 companies (there has to be others) refurbishing (mechanically, cosmetically) already clean, low mileage, 10+ year old, pre emissions, diesel F-250/F-350s (Lariat/King Ranch 4X4 crew cabs especially) to “like new” condition. These aren’t cheap necessarily, especially if they’ve had Power Stroke “issues” aftermarket-fixed, tuned out. Up to 50% of their brand new F-series “equivalents”, but buyers are lining up and those companies can’t keep up with demand.

      Is it the cost of new, fully loaded, diesel big pickups? Or current/future emissions? Too much stuff to break? Other hassles? Idk, but something’s a brewin’.

      • 0 avatar
        Menar Fromarz

        Well, I’m not surprised based on my last build it price on the ford website. For fun and interest I price out what my 06 f350 crew longbox diesel 4 x4 is going for. 63k Canadian plus for my rubber floormat work truck. Plus taxes, etc, etc. Now mine isn’t perfect or leather lined, but as I have had it for four years and traded a 06 Jetta tdi for it, might have 9k in it. So, a new paint job and misc items this fall and she’s good to drive past the ford dealer for some time to come.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          The ’06 is a wise (long term) Super Duty choice. Cleanest looks, biggest power of the pre-emissions diesels. Full diagnostics, coil front-suspension, virtually indestructible 5-speed auto.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Fear of automotive electronics is an old and continually disproven fear. The folks who got it wrong always got it wrong… but the folks who get it right always get it right. I vaguely remember the uproar of the switch from carbs to EFI, with reliability being one of the big concerns. Yet lo and behold…. I’ve never heard of an old GM or Honda or w/e dying because its ECU failed.

        Plus you look at those 10ish year old cars, stuff like navigation systems and the like are failing… but the aftermarket is stepping in with affordable replacement solutions, and there are always junyards.

        Most importantly people don’t keep their cars that long anyway; I think the average person keeps a car for ~5-6 years? That’s for the second/third owner to worry about. And if you are buying cars that old you have to go in eyes wide open anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        A 2004 car is much more complex than the 1990 equivalent, but also much more reliable and durable despite having “more stuff to break”.

        What is your basis for saying that this will also not apply to 2018 vs 2004?

        Complexity is not a reliable guide to long-term functionality.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          No, we couldn’t wait for “EFI” to hit mainstream cars we could afford. No comparison. Same with overdrive “sticks” and automatics. It was just some hack, backyard mechanics sniveling and a few Doityourselfers.

          Not to mention “points” ignition. Stone Age stuff. There’s not a lot of difference between 1990 and 2004. Distributor-less ignition and and a couple others that actually improved reliability, with less moving parts, wires to chafe, etc. And much less mechanical cables/linkages, to pop off/snap/bind/stretch.

          Unless you’re a fan of the endless feed of gadgetry, I don’t see an upside.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            What specific technology are you seeing that’s going to brick cars? Direct injection and turbocharging are old hat and much older + less robust infotainment and control module electronics haven’t bricked cars yet. Obviously something loaded with gadgets is going to be less reliable than a Honda Fit LX, but the little trip computer and Bluetooth in that Fit doesn’t outweigh the huge strides in reliability and durability made elsewhere. You don’t have to opt in.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            DenverMike I’d argue the big shift from the 90s->2000s was the adoption of CANbus wiring/control of vehicle systems, and the proliferation of “black box” control modules for evertything like door locks, seats, windshield wipers, etc etc. The number I’ve heard second hand from my brother attending a seminar was Euro cars are running in the range of 70 such “modules,” mainstream American/Japanese are in the range of 30 modules (in place of simpler and cheaper relays and such). Also “smart” alternators, water pumps, PCV systems, electric power steering,etc.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Engine “stop/start”, HVAC control integrated into the infotainment, electronic shifter and parking brake come to mind. There’s probably a few others I’m forgetting, but who really asked for that kind of stuff?

            Some tech makes new cars a little more “user friendly” taking way normal keys and whatnot, but be ready to pay big money when things go wrong, and yes they will. Mechanical keys/cylinders aren’t perfect but you can usually get 15+ years trouble free, along with other mechanicals that are cheap to fix or rig up in a pinch.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            “What specific technology are you seeing that’s going to brick cars? ”

            Price out headlights, head units with nav/hvac controls, adjustable suspension or other electronics that make cars difficult to live with if they don’t function correctly.

            No, they won’t literally brick a car, but walk me through the cost of replacing expensive headlights or head units when the car is worth close to the repair cost.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            “Engine “stop/start”” – S2000 had this nearly 20 years ago, no problems.

            “HVAC control integrated into the infotainment” Again, Lexus + Infiniti have had these things for close to a decade, no problems.

            “electronic shifter” I don’t see how this is any different from DBW, stability control or even a regular “mechanical” auto shifter. If you pour soda on your ’98 Corolla shifter you’re probably gonna have problems.

            “electronic parking brake” See electronic shifters.

            jkross 22 most cheap cars still come with plain jane halogen headlights that cost regular amounts to replace. And even fancy headlights like the LED headlights in the new Corolla are cheap. This is just luddite FUD. If you guys want to complain about high costs look at the increasing use of aluminum and high strength steel. That’s across the board and that’s going to drive up repair costs for real.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “…This is just luddite FUD”

            Call it what you want. But industry analysts have it so far up their butt it’s the economy, unemployment, cautious spending and whatnot.

            Maybe we have piles of cash just gathering dust, and maybe we’re just not impressed with what’s being offered, and possibly a little offended.

            Maybe it just doesn’t take much to impress you. Yes many are hypnotized by the latest gee-whiz gadgetry. Is that you??

            The problem too, used cars/trucks are just too great a deal, and when clean and low mileage, they have many years or decades of trouble-free ownership left in them.

            You don’t even have to be handy with a screw driver. But OK enjoy your brand new Honda snoremobile, gadgets galore.

            More original (elderly) owner’88 T-top MR2s to be had ($8K or so). Or low miles, adult driven, never raced ’04 Cobra (Termi) Mustangs to be had (for under $20K) . And Regal T-Types, 60K original miles. Use your imagination if you still have one.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Denver, what the hell are you talking about. So someone who just wants a basic commuter with no hassles should buy a 20 year old MR2 or a 400 HP 10 year old Mustang? And I have never bought nor do I ever plan to buy a new car. I just bought two used interesting cars. And I’m not afraid to turn a wrench; I rebuilt my motorcycle with a lot of custom parts after I crashed it. What is it about articles on millenials and/or new car buying that turns the B&B’s brains to oatmeal?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Buying a new car simply isn’t a necessity anymore, when shopping for hassle-free reliability. It frees up a lot of cash, and opens the door for something cheap and fun, but still of great significance/presence/performance, if you’re into that type of thing.

            My nephew just scored an excellent condition ’06 King Ranch diesel F-250 4X4, 125K miles, with a long list of upgrades, including head studs, for about what you paid for your Honda that’s losing value at a much faster rate.

            Cheap, reliable and boring is good too!

            Yep let some sucker take the depreciation hit, just ’cause they gotta have “new” and the latest tech features.

            It’s becoming clear there’s never been a better time to buy “used”, even if this article and many others try to give the impression everyone would buy new vehicles if they only could.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Jeff,
      I pretty much agree with you.

      Oddly, most every new vehicle I bought was the first generation of that vehicle.

      The most boring and most reliable vehicle I bought was a 1997 D20 4×4 Navara, it was the last of the D20s.

  • avatar
    Fred

    The thing about the boomer statistics, is that many of us are not going to buy another car. At least this is it for me. Maybe if there is some whiz-bang self driver to keep me on the road longer.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Fred,
      I’m a 1960 Boomer. I think I have 2 or 3 cars left, we’ll see.

      I also don’t fit into the stats in this article. I’ve only bought new since I was twenty 25.

      I’m hoping to get a decade more out of my pickup. That’ll make it 16 years old.

      I don’t know what type of vehicle I’ll buy next. Maybe a 4×4 SUV? Not a car, thats for sure.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        I retired in the Sierras (about 4500′) and I may have to get AWD. Will see how it goes with some good snow tires this winter. If so it will still be a car or hatch and probably a Subaru as it’s about all that will fit my budget and access to a decent shop.

  • avatar
    TW5

    I’m all out of sympathy for the automotive industry. They are building a mature product, yet the base price never goes down in real terms, and they keep using financial shell games to raise transactions prices to levels people can’t really afford. They aren’t fighting CAFE 2025, which means fines and new equipment are going to drive up the MSRP even more.

    Every time the manufacturers invent a new way to mint money it involves reducing fuel economy or labor force, which draws fire from regulators and disenfranchises their customers. The American manufacturers had to be bailed out, which was embarrassing for our country. Foreign manufacturers are slow to move production to the US. They manufacturers have done absolutely nothing to combat the NHTSA arms race, which is turning vehicles into armored battering rams under the false pretense of safety, when it’s actually run off road accidents that continue to kill Americans.

    Most recently the manufacturers tried to turn cars into smartphones which has led to some of the most annoying, unnecessary problems for new owners. Rather than partner with companies that know what they are doing, the manufacturers insist they can make more profit if they engineer the hardware and software (in many instances) so these annoyances will persist for several more development cycles. The reliability problems which will result from CAFE have barely kicked in. Honda can’t even seem to build cars anymore without stop production and recalls.

    The manufacturers are too dumb to run motorsports operations anymore, which means one of their biggest marketing tools is essentially dead. Now they just pay video game manufacturers to plug their products. Guess what? None of those cars I drove in GT are sold anymore so……….

    Auto business is a bad joke told by people who hate cars.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    As a borderline millenial, I’ve always bought used.
    Used to buy beaters, cheap ones at that due to poor credit. Recently needed a family car, looked at various options to lease but a huge “lost” deposit or final payment put me off, ended up just buying used again, albeit for the same amount as a base model economy car.

    Cars are a depreciating asset, as soon as they’re out of the showroom you can almost watch the value plummet.

    There are very few “new” cars that interest me anyway, and I used to be a huge gearhead. Now the car market is a sea of boring CUVs. Yes they’re what other millenials are using as family cars, but they’re just so uninspiring and van like.

  • avatar
    raph

    Well I’m heading toward,the outer edge of the 35-49 year old segment but I suppose I’m still an outlier since I purchased a new car last year but this is a turning point for me since in about 15 years I plan on retiring and I want to hedge my retirement planning plus build a significant amount of income outside of my 401k.

    I’ve had a steady car payment since 2001 since I’ve climbed the ladder from a 2002 Mustang GT to the GT350 I have now and in the intervening time I’ve probably spent around 170k getting there to the last payment on thed GT350. Throw in my first financed car ( 91 LX fox ) and it’s closer to 185k.

    In any event I want to have at least 2 years worth of gross income sitting in my savings outside of my retirement account so no new cars for me until then.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Just one question, if more folks are planning to buy used, who are they buying it from? You need folks to buy the cars new before they can become used. I really think these numbers will occur, what will occur I think is more leasing which may or may not make sense, and longer loans, maybe the 72 month loan will be the prudent choice in ten years kinda like what 48 months loans are now. Folks pay for the new I phone over 3 years now so a car payment for 6 years does not sound so bad , better chance of the car still running than the phone. I almost always buy used because I drive about 25,000 miles a year and a new car does not make sense for me, my wife always buys new, usually keeps her car 6 years and sells them take the cash use as a downpayment. Did this for 5 cars, having a company car allowance helps us since I can make money on my car. Her last new car a 2005 Hondo Pilot, yep she still has it because we need it to haul kids around and use as a trip car, no reason to buy answer one, it only has 110,000 miles on it and will be her car until it is ready to be handed down to one of kids in a few years. I bought a new car in 2011, a TDI wagon and I bought that because used car prices were so high the spread was not bad to jump into a new one, when VW bought it back from me, I looked nothing new excited me that would work for me, under 50k so I bought used again.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My problem with buying used is that in a late model vehicle it is not that much more to buy new than a late model vehicle especially a pickup truck or crossover. Why save a couple of thousand on a used vehicle with high mileage when for a thousand or two I can buy a new vehicle with a new warranty and better financing and I can keep the vehicle for 10 or more years. I have bought used vehicles in the past and have gotten some excellent service out of my used vehicles but I will not pay almost as much for any used vehicle when for a little more I can buy new. Now if I were buying a midsize to full size sedan I would look at a late model because of the higher depreciation but certain vehicles like Toyotas, Hondas, Ford trucks, and Chevy and GMC trucks you do not save that much. Unless things drastically change or unless I know who and where the used vehicle is from I will buy new.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    This is all true until….the price of gas dramatically rises. I don’t disagree with the argument that we have a glut, which keeps price down. However, the only way to pay for the rebuild our roads and bridges is with an increase in the fuel tax. And most likely, a large one at that.
    The next issue the gubment goobs are going to need to tackle on is the how to do you apply a use tax to electric cars, since they are using the same infrastructure as the rest of us, only they are not paying for it. I get that most of the EV owners have another car that takes pump gas, the gas tax is supposed to be the great equalizer that we all pay. With broad differences in mpg nowadays it is not.

    If the cost of gas goes up by $1 a gallon new car sales of will start to rise. At some point the OEM’s will start to lobby for a fuel tax increase just to get sales moving.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Your observation about the futility of gasoline taxes pertaining to EV usage is an argument against gasoline excise in its totality. The only thing regulators need to figure out is that specific use taxes or excise taxes are an incredibly stupid way to fund something with as many positive externalities as a road.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      How do you figure the cost of gas spurring new car sales? People are getting their cake and eating it too with increasingly fuel efficient crossovers. Nobody is going to dump their CR-V for a Civic, and someone who needs a 3 row crossover has no choice but to stay in a gas guzzler.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        sporty…a lot folks drive Tundras, Sierra 1500, F150, Hemi Rams for basic transportation. Just like in 08′ when gas hit late $4 per gallon there was a rush to trade out of them. We can all agree that not every pickup driver needs one and there is a break point where a lot of them can not afford to drive them everyday.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I’m a millenial and I *gasp* bought a new car in 2015. But, I plan to keep it long after my loan is done. In fact, I plan to keep it until either my family outgrows it (reason I traded in my last car) or it becomes unreliable/unsafe. The depreciation hit alone was too big to consider getting rid of it even remotely quickly.

    I love the car and I’m overall glad I got it. But do I wish I also would’ve put up with forcing a car seat into my tiny former car and just dealing with it since former car was paid off? Yes. So, I can see both sides of the “argument” here.

    But, I’ve always said, someone has to buy new cars or else the rest of us won’t have any used cars to choose from.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I believe motor vehicle sales or better still types of vehicles bought (and proportional quantity)will change. Possibly less vehicles proportionally in countries like the US and other OECD economies.

    There is a global migration occurring and no it isn’t Latino’s or Mexicans jumping the border into the US or the down trodden victims of many wars, droughts, etc. This is a far bigger migration.

    Urbanisation.

    We will see public transit become more popular. Taxes will inrease to pay for the massive increase in the elderly. Education costs will inrease. AI and robotics will reduce work days to 6hrs.

    Vehicle ownership will become more of a luxury. The decline in private vehicle ownership will be gradual.

    The manufacturers will become more reliant on expanding in developing markets as the mature markets will confront the up and coming social challenges.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I do agree that many who live in urban areas will have less need for owning a vehicle. Robotics will reduce the number of lower skilled jobs and taxes will go up not only because of the increase of the elderly but also because there will be less taxpayers and more dependent on Government programs. Displaced workers with less skills will find it harder to get any job even a lower paying service job. The cost of vehicles will rise with more regulations and with less competition with smaller and weaker manufacturers either merging with their larger competitors or will just go out of business. More usage of Global platforms and more standardization of products with more of the options becoming part of a trim package and less of an extra option. More reduction in cost and more efficiency will be critical for survival of the auto industry. Vehicles will continue to have longer service intervals with less do-it-yourself maintenance. Elimination of motor oil dipsticks, auto transmission dipsticks, elimination of grease fittings on front end of vehicles, more use of synthetic oils and fluids, and anything that most do-it-yourself have done. Basically when a vehicle needs maintenance you will have it serviced and eventually replaced. Leasing will become more popular which benefits dealers and manufacturers because leasing encourages a shorter period of ownership. Reducing the period of ownership will be especially important if more decide to not own a vehicle and to have fewer vehicles.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    1960s – those that bought new mostly got a plain-jane 4 door sedan with a 130hp six or 180hp V-8 and 2-3 speed automatic (no A/C, vinyl interior, maybe PS and PB) – almost no one bought the Hemis, SS396, etc. that are the big collector cars today. Those that bought used usually ended up with a rust bucket with tattered seats and an engine blowing blue smoke from worn rings and valves.

    1970s – those that bought new mostly got a slightly better equipped sedan with a smog strangled 95hp six or 130hp V-8, but almost certainly with A/C, PS, PB, velour seats.. Those that bought used usually ended up with a rust bucket with tattered seats and an engine blowing blue smoke from worn rings and valves.

    1990s – those that bought new bought a 4 cylinder (95hp) or V-6 (130hp) mini-van or mid-size sedan with climate control, nice stereo, leather, fuel injection, 4-5 speed automatic, airbags, and ABS. Those that bought used usually ended up with a rust-free vehicle with clear-coat paint issues, slightly tired interiors, and mostly good running motors as long as they avoided models from the 1970s.

    Today – those that buy new don’t buy – they lease a luxury brand, Ford F-150 or Honda CRV (or equivalent) that is very well equipped does 0-60 in less than 7 seconds, and has all kinds of complicated electronics and safety equipment. Those that buy used get a vehicle that often looks and drives barely used, but always fear that the 5-10 year old electronics will leave them dead on the road and looking at a multi-thousand dollar repair bill.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    This isn’t the rocket science they are trying to make it out to be, nor isn’t it cause for doom and gloom. Yeah older people are more likely to buy a new car and because that car was purchased new they feel confident that they will keep it around for a while. Plus they have likely learned to make sure that they maintain that car so that it is able to last a long time. They also are less likely to see significant life changes like getting married and having kids. Also just the act of buying new with the current long loans means they are forced to keep it longer to reach the point where they aren’t upside down.

    Meanwhile the young people are less likely to have the money to buy a new car so they buy used. Because it is used it is closer to its end of life making it less likely to be kept long term. Plus as those young people age they see more life changes like getting married, having kids, moving up to a better job with better pay. So yeah they don’t plan to keep the car as long since it is used and they are expecting that it won’t fit their needs in the future or because they will be able to afford something better.

    Once those kids come along then they’ll start buying more new cars and they will keep them longer.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I just turned 47 years old and, *ahem*, “All the best cars have already been built”.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–Your Mazda truck should easily make it to 16 years old and beyond with proper maintenance. I currently have a 99 S-10 with a 2.2 I-4 5 speed manual that is going on 19 years old and still looks new with original paint and still runs like new. I am a stickler for maintenance and would rather do preventative maintenance before something happens. My wife had a 77 Accord for 17 years and I had a 77 Monte Carlo with swivel buckets for 18 years. I also have a 2008 Isuzu I-370 crewcab 4×4 with heated leather seats and a tow package with 29k miles which I have had since new. My wife has a 2013 CRV with all wheel drive full loaded. I learned from my Great Great Uncle and my maternal Grandfather how critical proper maintenance is. My maternal Grandfather was a farmer and could work on anything and built houses and barns by himself. My Grandfather had an old Pontiac during the Great Depression that he overhauled the motor several times and did his own maintenance just to make it last during those times. My Great Great Uncle was the first pilot to fly from Kelly Air Field and trained pilots during WW I on the Curtis Jenny Bi-planes. Uncle Hughes as we called him was a barnstormer and once built his own car during the Great Depression using parts out of a junkyard. Unfortunately I was too young to learn from my Great Great Uncle and Grandfather but both were great men and both were totally self-sufficient and were literally jack-of-all trades. I never heard them say anything negative about anyone and both were happily married and good providers.

    Many younger people do not have the desire or knowledge to work on their own vehicles or do anything that resembles that. There are some younger people and those are usually the ones that were not given anything and had to work hard for everything. I don’t see as bleak a future as some because I believe there are just enough of those hard working self motivated younger generation to carry on. I do believe the influence and example that your parents, grandparents, and uncles and aunts give you are important and last a lifetime.

    As for the auto industry it is like any industry in that it will be in a state of constant change and it will have to adapt in order to survive. An auto company cannot just be in the business of making and selling vehicles but it needs to be in the transportation business as well. The transportation business encompasses such things as self driving cars, car rides, and rental services for those who live in urban areas and do not own a vehicle. There are other services as well which have not even been developed. More efficient production of vehicles with more robotics and more sharing of platforms with more standardization.

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