Gone are the days where you saved up your pennies for your first set of wheels; the ultimate symbol of freedom and independence. The fundamental rite of passage of buying your first car is fast becoming a thing of the past as less and less Millennials and Gen Z’ers are driving. Let’s take a look at what seems to be diverting the younger generation to the once monopolizing automotive industry?
The decline in the need to drive has not happened overnight, we recognized that everyone owning a car is unsustainable, so the world has started to be shaped for a society that is allowed to move freely without dependence on a car. Governments have built up the infrastructure for public transit and cycleways, VC funding is pouring into mobility start-ups in the United States, with $84.5 billion disclosed investments across 471 companies, opening up the market to the likes of the Uber’s and Lyft’s of the world. So, if the world is being built to reduce the use of cars, what is the use of a driver’s license? A study by the Federal Highway Administration exposes a 19 percent deficit; in 1983 80.4 percent of 18-year-olds in the U.S. had their driver’s license, a statistic that has dropped to just 61 percent in 2018.
New Options are Endless
We have the world in our pockets, everything they want just a few clicks away. We have entered the growing age of mobile apps and smartphones, where we have access to more local transportation options than ever before. Technology provides us with a choice beyond choosing between the car or the bus. Options like carpooling, ridesharing, e-bike or scooter rides are now just as popular measures of transport. Mobility companies are vying for our attention with discounts and incentives that align with our interests, making it a cheaper or more environmentally friendly option to get around town.
Unlike previous generations, the current generation is abandoning the idea of buying a large country house, preferring apartment living instead. Living in or near big cities rather than a house out in the suburbs means that millennials have access to local merchants and amenities that they don’t need a car to reach, this opens up the possibilities to alternative, and often cheaper, transport methods.
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High costs on vehicles
The price is also a huge influencing factor and we’re not just talking about the initial purchase or monthly installments. We’re talking, gas, insurance, parking, repairs, license, and registration fees. It’s also not necessarily a household priority, owning a car is much less of a status statement than it was 50 years ago. Since 2000, the average wage in the United States has increased a measly 4 percent in comparison to the high-inflation years of the 1970s to early 1980s, average wages commonly jumped 7 percent, 8 percent or even 9 percent year-over-year, according to Pew Research Centre. Compare this to the 6 percent increase of the average car price in just 1 year, from $35,742 in 2018 to $36,718 in 2019. The average household income cannot keep up with the rising car prices, so people are looking at alternatives.
The impact of driving on the environment
If the global lockdown has shown us anything, it’s the negative impact that driving a car has on the environment. American’s drive trillions of miles a year, making it the country’s biggest greenhouse gas emissions output. There is more to the environmental factors than just the CO2 emission produced when a car is driven. Compromised air quality is a by-product from trillions of miles driven, carbon monoxide and other toxins released into the atmosphere are both a health risk and visual pollution. Society is far more conscious of the environment than previous generations and making environmentally conscious decisions when it comes to getting about and unfortunately, traveling by car is not one of them.
Whilst the decline of the average driver is not a good thing for the automotive industry, but it’s good for everyone else; a brand new industry of micromobility has been born – for which the pandemic has only been a catalyst, as a community we’re making environmentally conscious decisions that influence our cities transport infrastructure, and we’re being smarter with how we spend our money – we don’t need the latest and greatest car to be accepted society – there are new smart apps, like Float Mobility, fueled by AI and technology that can help us make smart decisions to get around town.