Why Gen-Y Is Not Obsessed With Buying Cars

In the last year, or so, many news outlets have come out with stories that say something along the lines of- “Gen-Y is not into buying cars”. The purported reasons range from the proliferation of smartphones, hipsterism, generational shifts in attitudes or because they are socially or environmentally conscious. In my opinion, these explanations are full of bullshit.

I believe the real reason behind the lack of enthusiasm by Gen-Yers is a combination of three long-term trends, which have now passed a critical point.

1. Cars are no longer a good proxy for status. Even 20-30 years ago cars were an extension of your make-believe personality. People aspired to own a car that reflected what they wanted others to believe about themselves. Today that is no longer the case, as cars have become more like each other. It is hard to project a distinct image when different car brands and models look like they were designed by the same guy.

Furthermore cars are no longer a signal for wealth or ability to attract for beta chumps to attract hot women. It is now common knowledge among the younger generations that a guy playing in some local band gets far more and much better pussy that your “responsible” and anal retentive physician or engineer can ever aspire. Even the physician or engineer who marries a still attractive cum-rag is likely to end up getting dumped, divorced and paying child support rather than living unhappily ever after in some vaguely dysfunctional marriage. Cars just don’t help you get and keep OK looking pussy like they used to.

2. The next part of our cost-benefit analysis concerns the cost of buying and keeping reliable cars. The price of cars used to be quite low, especially when compared to the median wages for 20-somethings. Furthermore 20-somethings from previous generations did not have crushing and nondischargeable student debt, prolonged low paying jobs and unstable career paths. It was once possible to easily get a decent job in some part of the country, move there and start a new life with a high probability of success. Even failures or setbacks were not as catastrophic in previous eras, as they are now- thanks to our dysfunctional and financialized ‘society’.

Today the cost of the median new car is equal to, more than, the median yearly income of 20-somethings- before taxes and deductions. Even a reliable 5-10 year car old costs between 10-5 k. Then there is the whole issue of car repairs- whose cost and timing can be unpredictable and disastrous for people who are barely solvent. You can add things like the spiraling costs of traffic tickets and all sorts of fines which make car driving a money drain of dubious value, rather than a source of enjoyment and freedom. Did I mention that many have to pay to park their cars at or around the places they work? and who can forget the effect of harsh and useless anti-drunk driving laws, which are used to extract money from and abuse drivers. Buying a car has just became too much trouble for the ever decreasing utility it supposedly provides.

3. Getting married and having kids was THE main reasons behind the growth of housing, suburbs and automobiles in the 20th century. Men bought cars to attract chicks, then bought bigger cars when they got married, then bought houses in ever distant suburbs, and more cars once they had kids or wife got a job just so that they could drive to ever distant jobs , schools and after-school activities. But marriage and having kids steadily became ever shittier propositions. Between no fault divorce, child custody battles, child support payments, post-divorce division of property; the whole marriage and having kids routine became a sucker’s game.

Gen-Y men have seen what happened to the generations before them and have increasingly chosen to not play this rigged game and Gen-Y women are too busy chasing after a small percentage of men. Few men want to bust their ass at some unstable job for a disloyal employer trying to make more money and buy a new car or remodel their house for a capricious status-obsessed wife who can destroy their life with a phone call. It is just not worth it! Furthermore, the older generations still seem to be living in a fool’s paradise and believe that this change is temporary and things will come back- eventually. They also believe that abusing and pauperizing Gen-Yers even further has no effect on their own future.

To summarize: the lack of interest in cars (and automobiles in general) by Gen-Yers is the rational result of a combination of long-term trends and the profit hungry short-sighted mindset which characterizes the later stages of capitalism.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. hans
    August 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Spot on.

    You should also add to 2. the obvious money-drain of rising gas costs and the mandatory insurance. Which is quite a big money-drain throughout and at the end of the year.

    At least over here in U-Rop, but I guess it´s not that different in the US?

  2. August 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    “They also believe that abusing and pauperizing Gen-Yers even further has no effect on their own future.”

    Oh, how true. And I am Gen-X. I believe that geezers oppose euthanasia will burn eternally in hell, and risk the loss of their hands and eyes.

  3. jackal
    August 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I think you boiled it down, spot on. I would only add that the same reasons probably apply to car-buying for all generations. Where recent gens have been hit hard by a shit job market, our parents have been hit hard by increased cost of living against dwindling resources. You don’t see as many old geezers buying new red sports cars anymore. It’d be interesting to see demographic stats for car sales. I enjoy buying a good car, then maintaining it forever. Because I don’t have a car loan or a banker forcing me to buy comprehensive insurance, the money I save on insurance, alone, never mind loan interest, pays for all my fuel, and then some. To beat the system, just get up earlier than the son of a bitch who wants to screw you.

  4. August 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    well, some of this depends on your locale…

    in Boston, suit and tie guys take the subway….

    in Los Angeles, even barely making it illegals have cars (bad public transportation.) There was an old song -Nobody Walks in LA….

  5. August 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    also, idealistically at least….

    more jobs can be performed via telecommuting-phone/webex/email….

  6. August 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    it was nice when I lived within walking distance of bars and restaurants…

  7. August 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    your mancrush is going away for 21 years….

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world/july-dec12/othernews_08-24.html

    are you gonna see if norway allows conjugal visits?

  8. Wilson
    August 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Yeah, costs have gone up a lot, as has youth unemployment. It’s also become more of a hassle for young teens to get licenses, and driving enforcement has become more “zero tolerance”. Thus I don’t think it’s really Gen-Y’s choice: it’s more that their standard of living and freedom have been greatly reduced by the previous couple of generations.

  9. ant
    August 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    batman was wrong: “chicks don’t dig the cars.” :s

  10. P Ray
    August 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    4. Cars are used as an excuse for employers to overwork staff: “If you have ready transport, there is no reason why you should return home at quitting time. Staying longer shows you have commitment, and in this time of job uncertainty, the person who demonstrates commitment gets promoted”.
    Of course, this is a lie, a threat and coercion all rolled into one.
    – If you are working longer for the same pay … you are actually being paid less.
    – Nothing stops an employer for sacking you for whatever reason, industrial relation cases are very often thrown out.
    – If the people above you are committed, why can’t they do your job, since the (common) idea is that a person above you … can do your job, only they have higher objectives of which you are a part.
    – If the truly hardworking were rewarded, why are those in charge often liars, the lazy and scumbag psychopaths?

    5. If you have a car, you have more to steal from, both violently and passively. You can either be held up for it, or your rims stolen.

    • P Ray
      August 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      6. Falsely accused as an accessory to a crime, accident or fraud.
      Do you believe everyone handed a speeding ticket deserves it? Police have quotas too. And criminals don’t mind using others’ license plates. Or a particularly vindictive person who observes a crime in their neighbourhood – and reports your car in the area.

  11. P Ray
    August 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    6. You can be falsely implicated as an accessory to crime or fraud.
    Nothing stops criminals from swiping others’ license plates. Police have also given out parking tickets falsely and coerced motorists into paying them. A vindictive person can falsely identify your car at the scene of a crime.

  12. August 24, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    The cost of cars is high compared to average wages plus they are a constant drain of money for fuel, service and insurance.

    • P Ray
      August 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      You won’t be considered for some jobs if:
      – you don’t have a car
      – you are not married
      – you do not have a “good reference” from a past employer.
      See how all of that plays into blackmailing the worker?
      some people only give jobs to those they consider desperate … because that person is “so-called” less likely to leave.
      I have no sympathy for employers whose own stringent “criteria created by HR and/or workaday psychopaths” … leads to them being cheated or acted against.

  13. August 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    What values does the modern car represent?

    Maybe if there was a car that typefied how an alpha male operates I would rush to buy a car.

    Alpha male: no money spent on education, only tattoos. Can get chicks for the cost of one drink (lots of bang for little buck). Loud, obnoxious, smokes a lot, takes up more space than needed.

    Alpha Dream Car: No money spent on safety and rules and regulations and shit so it only costs $1000 but it has a really cool paint-job. Can get 40mpg despite being a V8 (lots of bang for little buck). Loud, obnoxious, smokes a lot, takes up more space than needed.

    Instead the modern car represents fucking liberal ideals. Lots of child-side airbags, crash test safety ratings, perfectly manicured mauve interior, even a green motor/engine hybrid.

    Any boomers out there want to sell me their 1969 Camaro? C’mon, I know you are still hiding them in your garage as a symbol of who you wish you were….!!!

    • P Ray
      August 25, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      The alpha male is the guy who borrows the car, crashes it, and has the owner feel grateful for paying for the repairs and the honour of being selected for that rare privilege.
      Alpha from what I see = others pay for your mistakes … and feel good about it. And retaliate against those who say you should be accountable.

  14. Dreamer
    August 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I think the “generational shift” link is not complete BS. The smartphone displacing cars, environmental concern, and hipsterism is complete BS. Smartphone interest in completely independent of cars. There is no increased interest in making decisions based to save the environment. And hipsters is a symptom, not a cause. But I think there is a shift in the way we think and value.

    People of the older generation I have met have many times spend a good bit of time just admiring the cars regardless of it hold any extension personality or status. Just appreciating the machinery itself. But that reverence for cars is just not there anymore.

    With the decoupling of status as you said and the culture of admiration it is viewed utilitarian now. Getting a car or even a license is only desirable if there’s a need (and affordable).

    People gives much more praise now to homes urban centers and suburbia is now view much more negatively for its isolation to everything. Without the culture of reverence to no-man land of shrubbery and engines, why would anyone care for that when you can live in places where there’s food, life, and things you want to do in a few blocks from each other?

    It sounds a lot like the European view of things and I would make a claim of that if I really feel confident that I know how Europeans view things aside from liking bikes a lot more than the US older generation (whom many seem to reach just outright hatred).

    Regardless, I think that fits with the definition of a generation shift. Our values are no longer hobnob to cars or isolated suburbs anymore.

  15. October 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Now, this is real talk. Unfortunately, you are right. Most young people buy cars, just not flashy ones. I know many young people who do not want the responsibility of monthly car payments, therefore, they shop for cars at auctions, B-lots or use their parents’ cars. Who wants to catch the bus or a taxi? However, most young guys do not aim for flashy cars with horsepower as much as they used to. However, others stupidly soup up their cars, assuming that it will attract the ladies, which it does not. It attracts the police, instead. Many young people driving souped-up cars who are caught roaming in poor, crime-infested neighborhoods still get harassed by law enforcers. It’s called “Guilty By Association”.

    I do recall being charged for driving without proof of insurance years ago, amid driving my stepfather’s car, as mine was temporarily down and he did not place the license plate on the vehicle properly (taping it onto the back windshield window). The ticket by itself was $180, but I had to pay an additional $400 “Driver’s Responsibility Fee” just for getting the damned ticket. Not to mention, the gas going to the post office, postage and money order fees I had to pay just to mail the ticket out to the courts. At that time, gas was going up to $2.75 a gallon. It was a huge hassle, but having a vehicle is more than coal and ice.

  16. Rod
    December 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    You should add “Because we still live with our parents, so we can always borrow Dad’s car.” Quit trying to make you all sound so savvy. Some Gen-Y may think this way, but the majority of car-less slackers had it so easy growing up that they can’t stomach the real world. They make excuses for dead-end jobs and hide behind elaborate arguments. Grow some balls, suck up a shitty job for a bit and live life on your own. Excuses are like assholes…and your’s stinks.

  1. August 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm
  2. September 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm
  3. October 24, 2013 at 11:21 am
  4. November 24, 2013 at 9:59 pm

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