Zipcar Says 72% Of Young Americans Don't Care Much About Owning A Car

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Zipcar-funded study on Millennials and technology, February 2013

Zipcar-funded study on Millennials and technology, February 2013

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Here's what we know about Millennials and their love/hate relationship with cars:

  • In America, many folks born in the 1980s and 1990s grew up in wired homes and schools. When those folks were asked to choose between having a car or having access to the web, 64% chose the web. In fact, 32% said they couldn't live without it.
  • Young people's ambivalence toward earning their licenses -- and, by extension, driving -- might be attributable to graduated licensing programs, but it may also be due to the growth of social media. Heck, why spend 30 minutes stuck in traffic just to spend time with friends when you can hang out via Google Hangout right now?
  • And we have our own theories about increasing urbanization, which probably means that more Americans have grown up using mass transit. (We'll save those hypotheses for a rainy day.)
  • Even Millennials who are interested in automobiles have trouble affording them. The Great Recession put a damper on employment just as many Millennials were entering the job market. Those who do earn enough to buy a new car can have a tough time meeting the higher credit standards imposed in the wake of the financial meltdown.


Given such facts and figures, it shouldn't be entirely surprising that, when surveyed, most Americans in the 18-34 demographic said they would be most distraught at the loss of their computer (35%) or cell phone (30%), while just 28% said that the loss of their car would totally cause them to freak out.

(For what it's worth, only 7% said the same of television, which was ranked least important tech device among all age groups.)

The online survey, which fielded responses from 1,015 adults, found that the 18-34 group was the only cluster that didn't name the automobile the most important piece of technology in their lives. Among those 35-44, 41% rated the car at the top of their list of tech priorities, as did 45% of those 45-54 and 49% of those 55 and older.

The study also revealed that Millennials (a) are making conscious efforts to drive less, in part for environmental reasons; (b) would like to use public transit and carpooling more; and (c) use travel apps to reduce their driving frequency.

Who would publish such a survey, full of stats that denigrate car ownership and spell doom and gloom for the auto industry? Zipcar, of course -- the car-sharing firm that previously funded a survey proving that young people really like car-sharing.

That's not to disparage the survey's findings (although the company doesn't make it clear which third party has conducted the commissioned survey, and even though 1,015 seems like a moderately small sample size). We'd just like to encourage a little caution is all.

Have a look at Zipcar's lovely PowerPoint presentation embedded below and share your thoughts in the comments. 


[via John Voelcker, The Atlantic Cities


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Comments (5)
  1. Just wait until they have a family and move to the surburbs, they will need cars...

    They don't care right now b/c they are living with roommates and squeezed into a crowded apt in the city center while paying outragous rent just so they can hang out with their "young friends". But when they do hang out with their friends, they instead spending hours on their phones without having an interactions with them...

  2. That's precisely the point, actually: A lot of young people don't want to move to the suburbs -- and won't, even when they have families. They recognize the substantial disadvantages of an atomized car culture which sees people waste thousands of hours every year in shiny metal boxes driving to personality-less suburbs with no sense of community or place, just endless cul-de-sacs full of cookie-cutter houses. Why do young people recognize the huge down-side of modern American suburbinization? They have more widely lived the real disadvantages of suburbanized, atomized, alienating post-modern American life than any other American generation.

  3. All the Gen Y people I know eventually "joined" previouse gneration once they have 2 kids...

    We shall see in another 10 years or so...

  4. The rising cost of gas and the small income of those 18-25 year olds may be another factory to consider, given the question asks "reduce how much I drive...".

    Reducing driving (and taking alternate forms of transportation) is, at best, loosely correlated to desire to own a car.

  5. "Millennials also grew up with cell phones. Which probably explains why they think driving sucks"

    Driving sucks, but only in America, because most of the cars here are automatics. When "millenials" learn on a manual, they love driving.

    The correct thing to write would be that driving sucks because cars with automatic transmissions suck. No wonder the Europeans will not touch them.

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