The Complicated Relationship Between Millennials and Car Ownership

Buying a car was once considered a rite of passage in adulthood, but millennials are breaking the mould- making the big car manufacturers of the world extremely anxious. A study on attitudes towards cars and driving in millennials has revealed some complicated views, ones which are very different from that of previous generations. Here are a few of the reasons millennials appear to be buying cars and learning to drive less than their parents and grandparents.

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The Cost

Owning a car is expensive, and these days insurance costs for young people can be astronomical. On top of buying and taxing the vehicle, the monthly or yearly insurance cost can be so high (even for small, economical cars) that it prices many individuals out immediately. Throw in the fact that many millennials missed out on training, apprenticeships and in some cases education due to government cuts, the recession and other issues mean many millennials are earning on average less than previous generations. Lower wages means less expendable income and less chance of being able to afford a car. On top of this you have to factor in the cost of the vehicle, auto repair costs, fuel, tax and more. Contrary to the perception that young people are indulgent, it’s been discovered that many millennials seem to avoid buying flashy cars in preference to practical ones. Instead of a souped-up luxury car, many young car buyers are prioritising in-vehicle technology-which makes sense when they’re a generation who grew up with the conveniences of the Internet and mobile phones.

Access to Efficient Transport

These days thanks to services like Uber, it’s easy, efficient and relatively inexpensive to get around. Rail and bus companies also offer good deals meaning getting around without a car is easier than ever. These days you can track the location of buses and trains online and view timetables easily so there’s no waiting around indefinitely, this makes journeys so much smoother and more convenient than in days gone by. Team this up with the fact that 48% of young car owners asked stated that car ownership was a hassle, we can see that these views are much different to that of previous generations. On top of this, attitudes towards owning a car suggest that millennials no longer see it ultimate status symbol or something which offers true freedom and maturity. They have instead become seen as less of an aspirational purchase and more of a utilitarian one. These could help to explain why less millennials have their driver’s licence, their views towards driving and cars could be seen as pessimistic.

Delaying Important Milestones

With all that being said, what’s really happening here is that millennials aren’t giving up the idea of car ownership altogether. Instead they’re delaying it, as the generation has done with other things too. It’s now the norm to wait longer to leave the family home, get married, have children and buy their own house. While budget has a lot to do with this, millennials are a generation that seems to prefer to take things at their own pace, and aren’t hitting those milestones at the same times as their parents and grandparents did. For this reason, it makes good sense that they’re waiting longer to buy a car too.

As millennials reshape the auto industry, car manufacturers are being forced to rethink their products. Affordable and economical with great on board technology will appeal to most millennials.

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