he driver’s license was once a right-of-passage. Teenagers could not wait to turn sixteen so they could get a driver’s license and take the family car out for a spin; or, if they were so lucky, to take their own car, usually a...
he driver’s license was once a right-of-passage. Teenagers could not wait to turn sixteen so they could get a driver’s license and take the family car out for a spin; or, if they were so lucky, to take their own car, usually a hand-me-down and one held together by duct tape and pushed by a bunch of friends to get the motor to start. The car was freedom, a place to be with your friends and listen to your music without mom and dad yelling at you to turn that noise off. Movies such as American Graffiti celebrated that culture, proving that rashness belongs to youth; prudence to old age.
It seems old age has hit the young rather early. CNW Group finds those between 21-34, a prime age for purchasing new vehicles, are, in fact, foregoing buying a car in growing numbers. Those under 19 are showing even less enthusiasm for purchasing a car anytime in the future.
There are good reasons why that is happening. It takes longer today to establish a well-paid, long-lasting career. Those in the Gen Y bracket will likely graduate with large student debt loads and find a lackluster job market. They are likely to be well into their 30s before they have anything resembling a stable career with a meaningful paycheck, enough to afford a car or, for that matter, a house.
Another reason is young people tend to live and work in urban environments. Many tell me they place a high premium on finding jobs that can be reached through public transit or by bike. They have crunched the numbers and owning a car and paying for insurance and regular maintenance makes no sense in today’s urban landscape.
Urban landscapes also offer another advantage for those that are forgoing car ownership. I know many who make regular use of services as Autoshare or ZipCar, where one pays a small fee to use a vehicle for a few hours or for the day. It again makes no financial sense to them to spend money on a vehicle that will likely sit in a parking space most of the time. Why not spend the money on something more important, such as rent or food, or putting money towards retirement.
This has spooked the auto industry that is looking for ways to engage this demographic group. But it should not spook our industry. The upside to this is that those who do decide to buy a vehicle will have a greater incentive to hold onto it and maintain it. If a vehicle is considered a necessary investment to make, it is also one that has to be maintained to retain value over many years.
Service shops will sell themselves as a means of maintaining that vehicle investment. Sell yourself right to this group of car owners and you can maintain a customer-base that will be there for the long-run as they are more likely to stay with a service operation that helps them maintain their investment.
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