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article imageOp-Ed: Gen Y strikes back — Kids don’t buy cars any more

By Paul Wallis     Jan 31, 2014 in Lifestyle
Sydney - The car has been under fire for years from health experts, environmentalists and others for its polluting effects. Now it’s in trouble for being useless to the younger generation. Mazda says the demographics are changing, fast.
Sydney Morning Herald has the latest in an ongoing trend. Mazda's new revelation that kids aren't buying cars is part of a reshaping of demographics, and the stats are telling an interesting story:
...But a 2010 NSW Bureau of Transport Statistics study showed people under 35 were far less likely to hold a licence compared with previous eras.
Two decades ago, 79 per cent of the state's 20- to 24-year-olds had their full licence. That fell to 51 per cent by 2009. In the same period, the number of 15- to 19-year-olds with a full licence dropped by 20 per cent.
A little research indicates that many reasons are being advanced for Gen Y’s retreat from car ownership:
Google Think Insights:
Gen Ys are a tough crowd for automakers. According to reports, they aren't all that interested in buying or owning cars. They don't even really like cars, and they're not so keen on driving, either. To put this in perspective, the list of things that Gen Ys like better than cars includes the internet, iPhones, tablet's, and - according to one study published by Auto News - visiting the dentist.
The theory advanced is that Gen Ys are more interested in “instant gratification”, perhaps a superficial use of an old term to describe a widening major consumer issue.
The Atlantic, from 2012:
Kids these days. They don't get married. They don't buy homes. And, much to the dismay of the world's auto makers, they apparently don't feel a deep and abiding urge to own a car.
This week, the New York Times pulled back the curtain on General Motors' recent, slightly bewildered efforts to connect with the Millennials -- that giant generational cohort born in the 1980s and 1990s whose growing consumer power is reshaping the way corporate America markets its wares. Unfortunately for car companies, today's teens and twenty-somethings don't seem all that interested in buying a set of wheels. They're not even particularly keen on driving.
If you’re getting the impression that the markets have completely lost track of Gen Y, and you have Gen Y kids, be proud they know how to manage themselves, as well as perhaps a little worried about the demands on their money. What is more obvious than anything else is that the marketing guys don’t get the economics of Gen Y, at all.
What seems to being left out of the equation is the ridiculous prices Gen Y is expected to pay. Boomers and Gen X could afford cars. They weren’t paying $12 a drink. They weren’t paying the ludicrous on road costs of the modern car, either, when they were in their teens.
I can remember filling up a tank in an old Holden EK, the equivalent of a 62 Chevy, for $10 in 1972. We drove that car until the gear box literally fell out. A Gen Y person might not get out of the driveway and down the street for $20, simply because parking and gas cost so much.
Repairs are no joke, either. Instead of driving steel monsters, they’re driving snowflakes, and those things dent pretty easily. So do people’s wallets when paying for panels, systems, etc.
The fact is that Gen Y are cutting costs, very effectively. They’re not buying “costs on wheels”. They’re using media and those damn phones they never get off to short cut through the costs of driving.
The culture of outdated economic stupidity, explained
The results of a culture of spreadsheet-faced idiots are now becoming obvious- Real costs are so high that even teens can’t afford lives. This same disingenuous, sales-meeting-based waste of time of a business culture doesn’t get affordability, real costs, or anything else. That’s why it has completely lost track of Gen Y- the market is absolutely clueless about basic economics.
The other side of this equation is jobs. Gen Y don’t have the sort of regular employment previous generations had. They have in/out jobs, contracts, etc. They spend differently because they make money differently, and that’s apparently another insoluble mystery to the markets.
The truth is that the facts are the last things on anyone’s minds. The business growth ideology refuses to acknowledge any facts which don’t fit the “we’re brilliant” spectrum of outcomes.
Wouldn’t it be ironic, if the greedy, oil-worshipping, democracy, health, and environment-hating market collapsed simply because it priced itself out of business?
What would all those nutcases do for a living? Would they be forced to mix with (shudder) real people and look at real data? Would employment and quality of life become real issues?
Nah. They’ll blunder along until they accidentally hire some Gen Ys who know the score and know how to manage prices better.
If you want hope for the future, a generation not buying lifestyle crap would be a great place to start.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about generation y, youth car sales data, Gen Y economics, Mazda, Google Think Insights
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