Green cars the vehicle of choice for Gen Y

The age of Generation Y is upon us and marketers of all stripe and variety are attempting to figure out just what this group, also known as the Millennial Generation or the “echo boomers,” wants. 

Generally born between 1980 and the early 90s, a number of studies have attempted to define this group and as you can guess, the conclusions are all over the map. However, one thing seems to stand out, Gen Y is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.

The massive accounting firm Deloitte has been surveying Gen Y for the past four years in an attempt to gauge the mood, attitudes and preferences of the group in regard to automobiles. This year, the survey suggests that Gen Y could be the generation that leads us away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Deloitte recently canvassed 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer consumers in the United States, as well as 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 Gen Y consumers in Western Europe. For the sake of the survey, they defined Gen Y consumers as those ranging in age from 19 to 31. A strong majority (59 percent) of Gen Y respondents surveyed prefer an ‘electrified vehicle’ over any other type of car or truck.

Moreover, Gen Y consumers heavily favor hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (57 percent) over pure battery electric vehicles (two percent) or vehicles with a traditional gasoline-only powertrain (37 percent).

So why does this survey matter? Well, Gen Y consumers may be the game changers in the United States because, at nearly 80 million strong, they are one of the biggest domestic automobile buying market segments and the largest consumer segment since the baby boomers. According to projections, one out of four new automobiles sold this year in the United States, and 40 percent of vehicles sold in the next 10 years, may well be bought by a Gen Y consumer.

From the study, the survey found that Gen Y consumers are drawn to hybrids for several reasons. Most notably, fuel efficiency: 89 percent are considering buying a vehicle that gets better mileage, especially true when gasoline prices rise above $2.75 per gallon – the median price Gen Y consumers see as ‘fair.’

Further, 49 percent are willing to pay an additional $300 for each mile-per-gallon of improvement they can get out of a hybrid – only $50 less than the $350 mile-per-gallon premium that Deloitte estimates a hybrid vehicle currently costs compared to an internal-combustion engine vehicle.

Gen Y consumers also view hybrid technology as proven and reliable. Almost six in 10 respondents prefer a hybrid over any other type of vehicle, while a mere two in 100 prefer a pure battery electric vehicle – demonstrating that Gen Y is familiar and comfortable with hybrid technology, but not so much with battery-only technology.

Steve Duda, EarthTechling