I recently spoke with two of my clients whose teenagers didn't seem interested in getting their driver's licenses. Really? When I was 15, I couldn't wait to get my driver's license. I wrote my driver's test the day I turned 16. For these two separate clients, the concern was that their teenagers were limited in getting jobs. Both of these clients had driven their teens to job interviews because the commute by transit was incredibly long.
It was widely reported earlier this year that the auto industry is concerned with declining auto sales amongst 18-to-34-year-olds. Industry experts believe that Gen Y connect online so there isn't as much need to connect in person. Apparently cars are not the only symbols of freedom and technology has become a great competitor. Consider this from the Business Week
article: “For most Gen Y buyers...skipping a vehicle purchase is preferable to forgoing technology. Smartphones, laptops and tablet devices compete for their dollars and are higher priorities than vehicle purchases, said Joe Vitale, an automotive consultant with Deloitte.”
Generation Y sees their iPhone, tablets and other tech gadgets as more essential and valuable than a car. Have you ever been without your phone for a day? I have...I felt...naked. I had no idea what my schedule was, I couldn't connect with anyone – it didn't feel right. So I understand the importance of technology. On the other hand, I couldn't do without my car. Between family and work, my car gets me where I need to be.
I've always said that while many women believe that they don't know much about cars, I see the same thing in men. More and more men don't know much about cars either—but they could list me the specs off their newest tablet, cell phone or camera. Times are a-changin'.
Interestingly, the Business Week
article notes the following changes that the auto manufacturers have done in response to Generation Y:
- Toyota created its Scion brand to appeal to Gen Y
- Ford used social media outlets to promote the Fiesta subcompact
- General Motors set up programs with Walt Disney Company and MTV
There are other alternatives to owning a car that didn't exist when I was young(er). Car sharing companies like Zipcar provide 'wheels when you want them,' a service that is appealing if you don't want to own or rent a car.
So how about you? If you had to choose, absolutely had to choose, to make do without either your car or your mobile phone for let's say...a week—which would it be?