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.
- Millennials also grew up with cell phones. Which probably explains why they think driving sucks, because, you know, it distracts them from texting.
- For a variety of reasons, fewer young people are getting their driver's licenses these days. In 1978, about 50% of America's 16-year-olds navigated that time-honored rite of passage. By 2008, the number had plummeted to 30%. (Though that isn't making the roads any safer.)
- 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?
- There's also eco-friendliness to consider, which is a huge trend among the young. The green mindset has encouraged Millennials to take more trips by bike, bus, and even -- gasp -- on foot.
- 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.
AND NOW, MORE DATA
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.