New Study: Millennials Prefer Car "Access Over Ownership"

Low-carbon, affordable and convenient, Zipcar and other car-sharing programs are gaining popularity with Millennials. Photo by tedeytan.

The “Millennial” generation is quickly adopting car sharing as a mainstream transportation solution, according to results from Zipcar’s second annual study of the personal transportation and car ownership behavior of 18- to 34-year-olds. The study found that 55 percent of this influential generation have made an effort to drive less, which is a 10 percent rise from 2010. “Millennials are increasingly embracing access over ownership,” Zipcar explained. This is an interesting development, especially since vehicle ownership has been viewed as a “rite of passage” for many Americans.

Among the factors persuading Millennials to refuse car ownership are environmental concerns, which have led this generation to consciously reduce road travel. Other concerns include the total cost of vehicle ownership and the perceived advantages of “collaborative consumption” programs. “Compared to older generations, Millennials participate in and are more open to collaborative consumption programs, such as media, car and home or vacation sharing,” Zipcar explained. “More than half of Millennials, or 53 percent, indicated they would likely partake in a car-sharing service, like Zipcar.”’

Here are some key findings from the study:

  • 55 percent have actively made an effort to drive less, compared to 45 percent in the same 2010 study
  • 78 percent say owning a car is difficult due to high costs of gas and maintenance
  • 53 percent  would participate in a car-sharing service, like Zipcar – mobility and convenience is still important
  • Millennials are the most likely age group to participate in the “sharing economy” (67 percent would participate in media sharing and 49 percent in home/vacation sharing)
  • 40 percent  say they would participate to save more money for retirement or buying a home

“Policy makers should also take notice and accept that our youngest generation will not think about transportation the way we have for the last hundred years, nor will future generations,” said Scott Griffith, chairman and CEO of Zipcar.  “Our most forward-looking policy makers are thinking about housing, land use, highways, bridges and gas taxes like it’s 2015 rather than 1971.  It is my hope that these thought leaders will inspire a broader dialogue on mobility policy instead of sticking with an outdated transportation policy that directs limited funds almost exclusively toward highways.”

This doesn’t mean that Millennials are completely giving up driving. According to the survey, this generation still values the mobility and convenience of driving but increasingly seeks alternatives to personally owning a car.

Millennials account for about 23 percent of the general population and make up more than half of Zipcar’s members. The study surveyed 1,045 adults over the age of 18.  In order to match the national Census, the study utilized data weighted by the demographic variable.

Access the full study here.

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