Younger buyers are changing the car market, says Glass’s

Many younger buyers are viewing cars in a fundamentally different manner to their forebears in a way that could eventually lead to significant changes in the design and sale of cars, says Glass’s.

Generation Y and those younger are learning to drive later, driving less when they do learn and might not see a car as a key to personal freedom in the traditional sense.

Rupert Pontin, Head of Valuations, said: “For decades, there was a set pattern to the way most cars were bought and sold, which often simply started with boys pinning pictures of Porsches and Ferraris to the walls of their bedrooms.

“They learnt to drive at 17 and then embarked on a fairly predictable upgrade ladder of car buying, starting with an old banger and working their way up to whatever model their eventual income allowed, perhaps eventually buying one of those exotic sports machines.

“This has changed and, in some ways, it can be measured in the decline in popularity of those posters. Many people still have a genuine love of cars and they remain a status symbol but, for others, they are becoming seen less as a means to personal freedom and more as something like a domestic appliance.

“For ‘Generation Y’ especially this is true. The aftermath of the recession means that these people probably have less money, and other priorities, than previous generations. Also, they are more likely to be living in urban areas and starting families later. Their car buying choices are highly pragmatic.”

Rupert pointed to the way that connectivity was becoming a key selling point for cars and even the fact that touchscreens were becoming the main in-vehicle interface.

“The sophistication of connectivity between car and phone is already a key selling point for younger buyers and manufacturers are investing heavily in this area. For these buyers, the main aspect of a car may be nothing to do with the car itself but how well it allows them to communicate with the outside world.

“The dominance of touchscreens is an especially interesting development. In the past, car interiors have often been designed to resemble racing cars or even aircraft but today, the theme is often IT.”

The ultimate expression of this trend towards the car-as-domestic-appliance would be the eventual arrival of the autonomous car, which removed the driver element altogether.

“An autonomous car is likely to just be a place in which to sit while you are moved around. It couldn’t be further removed from traditional car culture. Looking at the specialist designs created so far, they are no more aspirational than a washing machine or a dishwasher.

“To be clear, we believe that there will probably always be a place for highly engineered sports cars and other models that are very much about driving and being seen. But an increasingly large section of the car market will be dominated by cars that are fundamentally a very civilised form of transport.”

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