The automotive industry is facing an unprecedented list of challenges. There’s soon to be a transition to electric cars, and then an even more transformative segue into entirely driverless ones. In the meantime, however, there’s a more pressing concern: the fact that young people aren’t buying cars in anywhere near the same volume as their parent’s generation.
Of course, when the car buyers of the future are showing signs of indifference to the idea of having their own car, it’s reason enough for executives at major manufacturers to start worrying. So what’s driving this trend? There are several factors, some of which feed into one another.
Driving a car is expensive. Not only do you have to buy (or rent) the car in the first place, you then have fuel it, maintain it, insure it, and occasionally get it looked over by a mechanic. What’s more, there’s talk of making motoring even more expensive.
The convenience of being able to hail an Uber and a Lyft from anywhere is enough to take a lot of the appeal away from car ownership, especially if you live in an area where it’s difficult to find the space to park.
By the same token, the availability of trams, buses and trains makes life that much more convenient for urban commuters – and young people disproportionately elect to live in big cities. As such, improvements in the availability and reliability of public transport are always likely to precipitate changes in the behaviour of the public.
Young people tend to be more attuned to environmental concerns than older people. As such, they might shy away from car ownership because of the emissions they create, and the environmental cost of manufacturing them. In many cases, this isn’t an evidence-based decision, but one driven by social mores with a subculture. If all of your friends are avoiding driving for moral reasons, then you might feel pressured into doing the same thing.
Worse driving experience
With roads being overcrowded, the experience of driving through certain parts of the country isn’t as pleasant as it once was. A few hours spent in an early-morning traffic jam can often be enough to dissuade would-be travellers. Again, this is something that’s likely to be more of a concern in the built-up urban areas which young people disproportionately inhabit.
The advantages of driving
Of course, despite all of these perceived flaws, there’s still a great deal to like about car ownership. The costs are often outweighed by the alternatives. The availability of cheap tyres and other consumables, along with advances in automotive technology, like lane assist and adaptive cruise control, might make the difference. Perhaps with the introduction of more innovations, young people might be once again tempted into the driver’s seat.