A recent study is shedding light on the driving habits of Generation Y — the so-called Millennials — and finding that, contrary to conventional wisdom, they do have an attachment to cars and driving.
The Millennials Have Drive study was conducted by MTV, which has been the voice young adult consumers since its arrival on the entertainment scene in 1981, to gain insight into the relationship of Generation Y with their vehicles and with driving in general, and how that differs to those relationships in previous generations.
In recent years, the belief has been that today’s youngest driving generation is so attached to technology and spend so much on it that it doesn’t leave room for vehicle purchases or even spending money on the fuel required to operate a vehicle, but apparently that isn’t the case.
Today’s young drivers would seem to rather turn on a laptop because they are turned off by the regulations of their newly acquired licenses. Most jurisdictions now have some form of graduated licensing which puts restraints on new drivers — what hours they can operate a motor vehicle, number of vehicle occupants, even labelling on the exterior of the vehicle.
The study found that Millennials actually drive more than use other modes of transportation (80 percent drive, versus eight percent each walking and using public transit, two percent cycling and one percent using car services) and drive greater distances per month on average than previous generations (1,503 km, compared to 1,271 for Gen-Xers and 875 for Boomers).
The study also found Generation Y enjoys its vehicles. Seventy percent of surveyed Millennials actually like driving, compared to 66 percent of members of Generation X and 58 percent of Boomers; and, 75 percent say they couldn’t live without their vehicles, edging out Gen-Xers (73 percent) and trouncing Boomers (62 percent). Being without cars makes 60 percent of Millennials “feel like losers among their peers.”
All of which should lead auto companies to consider targeting advertising to Generation Y more. The study further found that eight in ten Millennials see vehicles as the one big-ticket item they’re most likely to buy, and six in ten would rather buy than lease a vehicle. One in three said they would purchase or lease a vehicle within six months.
And as for the texting versus wheels debate, 76 percent of Millennials claim they would rather do without their Smartphones for a day than be without their vehicles for that period; and 72 percent would give up texting for a week before giving up their cars. Rather, they see their mobile devices and their vehicles both as essential parts of their lives, allowing them to stay connected with friends and family, explore new places, accomplish tasks and learn new things.
The study also advised the auto industry on how to successfully target Millennials, including more chances for customization, improved reliability, transparency at the buying stage, streamlining the car-buying process to make things happen more quickly, and easier-to-understand comparisons.
The Millennials Have Drive study was conducted in the spring of 2014 and included, among others, a survey of 4,400 subjects (3,610 Millennials, 400 Gen Xers and 403 Boomers), focus groups, one-on-one interviews, virtual travelogs, and interviews with experts and car dealers.