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Car Ownership Among the Millennial Generation

New innovations in online sharing have created companies like Zipcar, an affordable car rental company based on the premise that millennials rarely need cars.

Car ownership among the millennial generation has fallen off a cliff, according to a blog called “How to Market to Me: Your guide to getting the millennial market.” This blog, by Lindsey Kirchoff, outlines reasons why younger generations are averse to owning cars. She cites a study by the New York Times that indicates that 46 percent of 18- to 24-year-old drivers would choose access to the Internet over owning a car. According to Kirchoff, this trend is indicative of a shift in millennial behavior that shows millennials would rather stay at home and access the goods and services they need online, versus venturing out.

Kirchoff also cites others who have made similar observations. At Inbound 2012, author and wine entrepreneur Gary Vaynuerchuck stated that the lifestyle shift that results in more people staying at home contributing to their economy is “the greatest cultural revolution since the invention of the automobile.” The synopsis of these observations shows that the Internet enables consumers to not only communicate with their friends, family and colleagues from anytime, anywhere, but also allows them to achieve all of life’s necessities and accouterments without the aid of an automobile. What with lifestyle innovations like Pinterest, people can prepare a gourmet and creative dish at home without going to a restaurant. Consumers can “DIY” almost anything instead of purchasing everything, and for the things they cannot make, they can acquire them with the push of a button.

Kirchoff also cites a variety of reasons why car ownership has dropped off for millennials.


Ah, the recession. Millennials are in a worse financial situation than other generations were during the same point in their lives. College graduate employment is not as good as it used to be, although college graduates are still doing better than those without degrees. In addition to that, gas prices are high and online retailers have in almost all cases enabled free shipping.


People always say that you’d be crazy to own a car in a big city. Well, millennials agree, and as they are moving to cities in droves, they are trading in their cars for public transportation and higher rents.


Kirchoff argues that because there is less need to leave the house, our homebody culture is making car ownership obsolete. People, especially millennials, are investing in high-quality entertainment systems that allow them to stay home and watch movies in their own home theatres, versus shelling out for high movie ticket prices.


The Internet has enabled a “sharing culture” that previously extended to DVDs or other “rentables.” However, new innovations in online sharing have created companies like Zipcar, an affordable car rental company based on the premise that millennials rarely need cars.

Mobility deferred

In general, youth are more mobile than other generations. However, the millennial generation is surprisingly less mobile than other generations. The author attributes this to both the recession and the “homebodiness” that is causing millennials to value home ownership and the Internet over convenient and ever-present transportation.