Interesting article in the NYTimes (here!) about how GM is trying to get the younger generation interested in cars again.
Apparently young people don’t go all ga-ga over the next year’s models like they used to and this is hurting sales.
Frankly, I see this as a good thing. It means kids are getting better priorities than my generation did, and if you scroll down and look at the comments you will see that a lot of young people agree.
I suspect a lot of it has to do with the disposability of things these days as technology advances – younger people are used to a constant churning of technology while cars, for all their glitz, still just do one thing: get you from point A to point B.
Cars are darned expensive. You can change your computer every couple of years to stay cutting edge, but churning cars that cost $20,000 or so gets expensive after a while, and it still only gets you from A to B.
A lot of it, though, is a combination of two things.
1 — All cars pretty much look the same now days. I mean, look around. Back in the 50s a Studebaker looked a LOT different than a Chevy. Now, does a Ford compact look much different that a GM compact? No. They’re all generic car.
Cars now don’t change their look all that fast — they evolve. My 2001 Subaru Forester doesn’t look all that much different than my son’s 2004, and even the 2012 Foresters still look like Foresters.
What my old car says about me is that I own a Subaru Forester. Big woop.
2 – Cars are a victim of their own success. Face it, cars today are a LOT better than the cars I grew up with in the 60s and late 50s.
Back in the 60s, if a car lasted 70,000 miles you were amazed, and also a darn good mechanic. Cars broke down more, rusted outmore, got old faster and generally wore out. Plus, the constant model changes meant your old car looked a lot older sooner.
All this attention by the owner meant that the owner grew very attached to his/her car — you learned to fix it, to baby it, to take care of it. It was part of you, a much-loved object. and model changes meant you obcessed about what your car said about you. Why do you think all those ad campaigns for muscle cars featured pretty girls?
Cars today don’t foster a culture of caring for cars because they are built to last — they don’t even rust out — I dinged my car two years ago and there’s still only a tiny bit of surface rust on the scratches. They don’t wear out, they don’t break down, and computer controls mean they run a lot more efficiently.
You can easily drive a car for two years or more without caring about it.
Not saying you should, but you can.
It used to be that a car with 100,000 miles on it could turn heads. Now that’s common, and 200,000 is very easily done.
So, younger people today don’t care about cars. Good for them. The days when your car defined who you are deserve to be long gone.
I’m also heartened by the many comments on the story saying that if GM really wants to impress younger people it will build better mass-transit.