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Tech tops cars as freedom symbol

2012-08-13 10:24

YOUNG DRIVERS STEER CLEAR: Younger drivers in the US are increasingly uninterested in taking to the country's streets, choosing instead to spend their hard-earned money on gadgets.

Young people who connect online, rather than in person, could further drive down car sales as new-millenium youth has more ways to connect with the world than previous generations.

The US car industry is in a quandary. The rate of car sales to 18 to 34-year-olds in that country has reportedly dropped to 11% in April 2012; the rate for the same group was 17% in April 2007, the DetNews reported.


A car is still considered a gateway to independence but the 80-million US customers born between 1981 and 2001 have found other ways to connect and in the process have perhaps jeopardised the country’s vehicle sales recovery.

The DetNews reported sales of cars and light commercials rose 14% to 8.43-million in the first seven months of 2012 and are said to be on pace to top 14-million for the year – the best performance since 2007 (before the financial crash).

However a combination of lower pay for younger employees and the generation’s tendency to favour gadgets could stunt that growth, according to the DetNews, which says that in a weaker economy younger people have chosen to buy used cars or opted for alternatives transport. Most would rather skip buying a car than go without their technology and are more prepared to spend on smartphones, laptops and tablet devices.


Joe Vitale, an automotive consultant with Deloitte, said: "A vehicle is really a discretionary purchase and a secondary need versus an iPhone or personal computer," Vitale said.

Jordan Wesolek, a 23-year-old Chicago front-office worker, pays $300 a year (about R2400) for his internet service and is saving his spare cash for an Apple MacBook Pro laptop.

He rides a bicycle to work and wasn't thinking about buying a car. “The desire to own a car is just not there,” he said.


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