Thursday, November 11, 2010

Free to go Car-less?

Carmakers' next problem: Generation Y
People in their teens and twenties are more interested in gadgets than cars

By Allison Linn Senior writer

Meet Natalie McVeigh, the auto industry’s latest headache.

At 25 years old, McVeigh lives in Denver and has two good jobs, as a research analyst and an adjunct professor of philosophy. What she doesn’t have — or want — is a car.

A confluence of events — environmental worries, a preference for gadgets over wheels and the yearslong economic doldrums — is pushing some teens and twentysomethings to opt out of what has traditionally been considered an American rite of passage: Owning a car.

“There’s kind of almost every force working against the young driver right now,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst and editor-at-large at, an automotive research website.

That could be a problem for automakers, which are still reeling from the Great Recession that sorely damaged their industry. Now, they may find that their youngest generation of potential customers will either purchase fewer cars, put off buying cars until later in life — or they won’t end up buying cars at all.

“That’s definitely a concern,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, an automotive market research firm that has been tracking young car buyers for 20 years. “They are not as engaged with cars and trucks as Gen X or Boomers before them.”

The percentage of new cars sold to 21- to 34-year-olds hit a high of nearly 38 percent in 1985 but stands at around 27 percent today, according to CNW research. Over that same period, the percentage of new car buyers who are 55 or older has generally been trending up, according to the vehicle research group.

The rest of the story

So what do you think the ramifications of this will be for a city like Fort Wayne? Are there other adequate transportation options for this generation who doesn't want a car? I think that there is already evidence of this. Neighborhoods such as West Central and Northside are at an advantage because they are more walkable. No offense to Citilink, but it does not make transportation as easy as it needs to be for more mass appeal. Citilink is a slave to budget cuts just like other government-type organizations. With the tax cap that was just passed, it will only get worse. Will lack of alternative transportation infrastructure cause the young people to move to places that will allow them to be car-less? Ask your favorite Generation Yer, if you can find one.

No comments: