Millennial Motoring — Younger drivers expect cars to stay in demand for years to come | Automotive

The generation that grew up with the Internet, laptops and smart phones and glimpsed the abrupt demise of pagers, faxes and adding machines may have a soft spot for the 130-year-old automobile’s fate.

A new poll indicates that millennials, those born between the early 1980s and turn of the 21st century, see the motor vehicle as an essential mode of transportation for at least another generation.

LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loans, commissioned a polling company to conduct a survey of 501 millennials, a group that’s familiar with accumulated college debts. Aged 17 to 35, they are also of driving age, and the survey questioned only auto-owning millennials.

“Cars and the automobile industry have long been backbones of both the American economy and way of life,” according to LendEDU. The automobile industry evolves; just look at the past decade, the company says.

“In 2017, we now have self-driving cars, electric cars that run like a computer, and more hybrid vehicles; (and) ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Not too long ago, the industry built gas guzzlers such as the Hummer,” it said.

The lending venture questioned where the automobile industry is headed next and chose to ask younger motorists, “the most powerful spenders in the U.S.”

“In today’s world, it seems a new piece of technology comes out everyday that renders a similar, but older service obsolete,” the company pointed out. But, according to the poll, that doesn’t appear to be happening with the automobile industry.

Findings include:

  • A vast majority, 93 percent, believe that owning a car today is a necessity.
  • Fewer millennials thought a car would be necessary in 20 years, but the share was close to four in five people, or 79.2 percent.
  • Just 16.6 percent are re-thinking car ownership due to growth in ride-sharing services, but that’s in the short span that Uber and Lyft have been in business and “is nothing to scoff at,” the online researcher said.
  • About one-third of car-owning millennials see their vehicle as a status symbol.
  • Just more than half of millennial buyers prefer an ecologically “green” car to a traditional car.
  • Not quite half, 48.5 percent, of those polled used an auto loan to finance their vehicle.
  • A sizable minority, 42.5 percent, would give up handling the wheel in exchange for a self-driving car.

According to LendEDU, the self-driving results “were a lot tighter than anticipated and demonstrate the openness many millennials have towards self-driving cars — an openness that is not as prevalent with older American consumers.”

Meanwhile, the loan figures were “closely in line” with statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which estimated that 43 percent of the U.S. adult population owes money on a car, the company says.

According to LendEDU, milliennials were more adept with a car than expected. More than two-thirds of participants know how to change the oil in their cars and 80 percent said they could change a tire.

Many millennials had a satisfying time buying a car. More than two-thirds said “owning a car is not a hassle.”

Meanwhile, close to half of the car-owners surveyed either have driven for a ride-share program or are considering the move. “For the amount of Uber and Lyft drivers that are available at any given time in any given location, it was a bit surprising to see that only 11.6 percent of millennial car-owners have driven for a company like Uber, LendEDU said. “It was even more eye-opening to see that half of the respondents have not even given thought to driving for Uber or Lyft,” it said.


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Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or


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