Millennials May Save, Not Destroy the Auto Industry

Depending on who you ask, millennials are either going to save the world or single-handedly destroy it. Of course, they said the same thing about Baby Boomers in the sixties, and the Earth is still safely rotating on its axis. Thankfully, it now appears millennials won’t annihilate the world, either. Rumor has it that the torch has been passed to Generation Z, although only time will tell if this is false.

Still, millennials take the rap for a lot of bad in the world. Take the auto industry, for instance. Millennials who prefer to commute are often condemned for some of the problems facing the auto industry. That may be changing, however. A recent article from Bloomberg shows that many millennials are beginning to buy cars and drive themselves. So what’s changed? Let’s find out.

What the data shows

Millennials may be late to the game, but the research shows that they might be finally picking up the slack. According to Bloomberg, “Traditionally, license rates begin to peak when people reach their mid-30s and millennials are no different.” Many millennials are now reaching that pivotal age when buying a vehicle simply makes sense for their stage of life.

Of course, not all the data agree. A report released by City Lab points out that the data can be doctored depending on what you’re looking at. For example, one study examined the buying habits of Baby Boomers, the infamous Generation X, and the millennials. But rather than including data from the entire millennial generation, the study only looked at millennials from 1980-1984. It’s important to keep this in mind when looking over any study.

Auto sales aren’t going so badly, however, in spite of all the rumors to the contrary. CNBC reports that US auto sales have been steadily holding near 17 million over the past five years. The news site didn’t give the credit to one specific generation, however. According to CNBC, “Cheap and available credit, low unemployment rates and healthy consumer sentiment all contributed to a robust market for U.S. auto sales in 2019.”

Still, millennials probably have more of a role in the decent auto sales than CNBC is giving them credit for. Life is changing, and millennials are changing with it.


Let’s face it, riding on a crowded bus with a group of complete strangers and your three children isn’t exactly relaxing. Trying to keep up with your kids, watch for your stop, and struggle to carry groceries home while being shoved by strangers can get old quickly. 

Things were obviously different when millennials had only themselves to worry about. Cars cost money, and it made sense to save. Even if you buy used, you still have to buy insurance in most states, and even the most reliable cars come with repairs from time to time. 

That being said, placing your kids in a car seat and not have to worry about who they’re sitting next to is worth the extra hassle. It’s also nice not having to deal with the hassle of renting a vehicle for that long-overdue road trip. 

Moving to the suburbs

Several years ago, moving to the suburbs simply made sense from a financial standpoint. The jobs were more plentiful, the lights brighter, and many people found their start there. 

Times are different now. The days when you had to bus your way into the city and hope for that big break are over. The Wall Street Journal reports that many millennials have gotten the memo that suburban life isn’t so bad, and many are headed for greener pastures. 

Millennials no longer need to bus to work. As long as they have a decent WiFi signal, they can sit on their front porch and work from home. You can even get your degree online without having to set foot on a college campus. 

Of course, living in the suburbs means no buses to take you to the grocery store or that new restaurant that just opened in town. Lyft and Uber are slowly changing that, but if there’s one thing a millennial loves, it’s their independence. The auto world may be going through a slump, but the rumors that its slowly dying because millennials are waiting until their thirties to drive might be a little dramatic.