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Millennials buying more cars than Gen Xers

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(Crain News Service photo by Ryan Schude) Some young people, in a car, like yesterday or sometime.

DETROIT (Aug. 11, 2014) — Turns out, millennials are actually buying four-wheeled, gasoline-powered, seat-equipped boxes known as motor vehicles. But wait! Aren’t we supposed to hate cars?

Wards Auto states that, according to a J.D. Power study, “Gen Y,” “millennials,” “the kids on your lawn,” etc. — anyone born from 1977 to 1994, according to J.D. Power — bought 26 percent of new cars sold so far this year. Meanwhile, in the same period, Gen Xers bought 24 percent of new cars sold over the same period.

This means that millennials are not only actually buying cars — they’re buying cars at a higher rate than the generation that precedes them.

Aren’t we (Millenials) all collectively broke? Did our iPhones tell us to drive to a hip, trendy loft party, and we ended up at an Audi dealership instead? Did we find $33,795 in the bottom of an Intelligentsia Coffee mug?

Half a year’s worth of data isn’t enough to indicate a trend, but it is enough to assuage car companies’ fears that a generational sea change will put them out of business — and the year isn’t even over yet.

“Gen Y car buying is on pace to increase 16 percent for the full year compared with 2013,” Wards reported. “Gen X sales volumes are expected to increase 6 percent.”

Meanwhile, Baby Boomers still account for 38 percent of new car sales. But even that’s slipping. Their purchasing power dropped one percentage point from last year, and it’s not known whether this will be a consistent trend.

Young people tend to buy compact cars. Those cars accounted for 20 percent of what they bought this year. Gen X prefers compact SUVs, which make up 15 percent of their purchases.

If it turns out that, say, Fiat’s hideous marketing campaign had anything to do with this surge in youth sales, your humble author will personally eat a 500L hubcap.

(Editor’s note: Autoweek Associate Editor Blake Z. Rong graduated from Syracuse University and has been writing ever since about cars and the people who build them, race them — and occasionally blow them up.)


This report appeared on, the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.



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