Generation Y Buying Fewer Cars, Driving Less

By Colin Bird  on September 23, 2010
Echo Boomers, aka Generation Y, are the latest group of Americans to enter the work force. With new careers comes financial independence, which used to mean buying a car, but for the latest generation of Americans that doesn’t seem to be the case.

According to, fewer Generation Yers, who are 21 to 30 years old, are buying cars. They’re also driving less. Generation Y motorists make up only 14% of the miles driven in the U.S., which is down from 21% of total miles driven by the previous generation in 1995.

This is not because Generation Y is smaller than Generation X. To the contrary, Generation Y is the largest generation of people in U.S. history, with some 80 million of them.

So what gives?

According to Kiplinger, the group is more accustomed to using public transportation or car-sharing services, like Zipcar, than older Americans.

Generation Yers don’t see cars as mobile sex symbols that past generations did, either. The latest iPhone, music or software garners more attention than cars for many young folk. This generation is also more likely to see cars as damaging the environment. In most states, the road to driving takes longer now with graduated driver’s licenses. That means it takes longer for new drivers to drive independently, as well.

Kiplinger’s argument coincides with an earlier study we covered from J.D. Power & Associates, in which Echo Boomers were showing less interest in owning cars than previous generations.

That study citied the recession as a possible reason for the drop in driving and car ownership.

After all, many recent college grads may still be without a job after searching for close to a year, or they’re going back to school for secondary degrees. That’s hardly a situation where getting a new car makes sense.

Generation Y Giving Cars a Pass (

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