Automakers Find They Don't Build Kids the Way They Used To
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional baseball player so that I could afford to drive the most exotic and fastest cars in the world. In high school, I learned that cars with a roomy backseat provide certain advantages, and my dream changed to include cars that were still fast, but less exotic and more luxurious. This romanticizing of the car was borne of the idea to escape from life at home—to get out and away, and anything but alone. Today's kids, according to research conducted by General Motors, prefer to hole up in their bedrooms and on their computers and cell phones and video games. This artificially fabricated escape, as well as the escalating price of gas, does not encourage today's millennials to lust for actual escape. "There's simply new and better and, frankly, more efficient alternatives to communication and getting that freedom that they used to rely on the auto industry to provide," said John McFarland, senior manager for global marketing at Chevrolet. According to GM, more than 25 percent of the population is aged 16-24, a population that wields one trillion dollars in spending power, mostly frittered away on multiple iPhones, RayBans, and Venti Soy-Latte's. This is a problem to the automotive money-makers: How do you create and market an automobile to kids who, a) are loaded with student loan debt; b) would rather watch internet memes and talk on Facebook than meet face-to-face; and c) would rather pedal a two-toned lime green and off-white "fixie" than drive a car? "We don't really think that any brands today are doing it right," McFarland said. "We don't think anyone quite 'gets' this group." So, what do they get? Market researchers found, which should not come as a surprise (but does), that kids today want basic transportation, not performance. But not very basic. In fact, they want intelligent, also. And good looking, too. Basically, a smart phone on wheels. So, not really basic at all, and only in the sense that it rolls. But better than a bicycle, with Pandora internet radio, a roof, and a place for friends to share clever and ironic anecdotes about non-millennial aggravations. So, really, a smartphone-enabled Facebook on wheels. Source: The Detroit News
Surrounded by the seemingly endless in-car technology at last week’s 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, it...