Gen Y Is Anti-Car? Survey Says Think Again

Though the decline in automobile ownership among younger Americans has been dismaying car makers in recent years, a new survey says there’s hope yet for the U.S. auto industry. Deloitte released a study saying Americans who constitute “Generation Y” are more likely to own cars than once believed. They just want their cars to be high-tech, green, and affordable.

The Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study probed the attitudes of Americans born between 1977 and 1994, the group known as Generation Y. Reuters reports Deloitte discovered that U.S. respondents 36 and under cited the cost of a car as the chief obstacle toward ownership. Many of the generation were forced to hold off on buying cars due to a lack of available work during the recession. To compensate, some turned to car-sharing programs and public transportation.

Deloitte’s findings suggest members of this all-important demographic certainly want to be behind the wheel of their own automobile. Over 60 percent said they planned to buy a car in the next three years. Most respondents (nearly 75 percent) said they want advanced safety technology that can sense other vehicles on the road, while more than half wanted cars that were connected to the Internet and possessing multiple entertainment options, Reuters reports. They also wanted their automobiles to be green and efficient.

Over 50 percent of Gen Y respondents in the Deloitte survey said they expected to be driving a car with an electric powertrain in the coming years, Reuters reports, which suggests there are over 40 million Americans interested in green cars.

Automakers felt a chill run down their collective spine in August 2013 when a University of Michigan study brought bad news. The research reported 37 percent of respondents aged 18 to 39 were too busy to even get a driver’s license. That made the prospect of driving a car seem unlikely for one-third of young Americans. As for buying or leasing a car, both options were out of the question for that group. The Deloitte survey suggests there’s hope yet for the global auto industry.

So the 80 million or so people who make up Gen Y really want an efficient, affordable, tech-savvy automobile. No wonder automakers such as Tesla  are setting their sights on a long-range electric vehicle in the $30K range. An automobile of this sort could shake up the industry for decade. With fuel cell and other alternative technologies still a ways off, it appears to be automakers’ holy grail at the moment.