Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Cars?

The Atlantic has an interesting story by Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissmann in its September 2012 issue entitled “The Cheapest Generation.”  It details how “Millennials” aren’t making major purchases that once served as benchmarks of personal maturity.

Here’s a snatch about how Ford is trying to solve this problem and sell cars to young consumers:

The company is trying to solve a puzzle that’s bewildering every automaker in America: How do you sell cars to Millennials (a k a Generation Y)? The fact is, today’s young people simply don’t drive like their predecessors did. In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008.

Read the whole thing.

Surely there are many factors here: a weak economy; high student-loan debt; a desire among many young people to delay breadwinning; a reaction against materialism among young people; a laudatory trend toward a “walkable” lifestyle; the cultural loss of a meaningful narrative of personal maturity; and more.

It’s not wrong, of course, that twentysomethings aren’t buying cars.  There are, however, deeper issues to consider in this story.  This kind of trend has broad cultural significance.  It certainly has economic significance for the American future.  It has spiritual significance in that many Christian parents today struggle to know how to prepare their children for modern adulthood.

Whatever other conclusions we can draw here, this kind of trend reminds us of the need for churches to equip families to “launch” their youth and pursue Christ wholeheartedly as mature adults, whether that entails buying a Ford Fiesta or not.

(Image: The Atlantic)

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