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They Could be Called ‘Gen-N’: Many Teens ‘Neutral’ About Driving

Automakers are becoming aware that young people today don't care as much about driving.

It's a fact today that Gen-Y is not as enthusiastic about driving and cars in general as either Gen-X or the Baby Boomers. For the latter two generations, driving and earning one's license was a sign of gaining personal freedom and mobility. Turning 16 truly meant something. While there are many young gearheads today (such as our readers), the auto industry in general will soon be facing a big challenge in terms of keeping sales strong.

According to a The Detroit Bureau report, a new study by financial advisory firm AlixPartners is claiming that "so-called millennials are far less committed to owning a car than Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers." Best to call them Gen-N, as in feeling 'neutral' about driving. The head of advanced research for General Motors claimed that "it's a big challenge" of finding ways to get these younger people into dealerships today and in the future. In fact, according to the same study "there are as many as 5 million fewer motorists in the market than the growth in the U.S. population might suggest."

In addition, car sales for this year will hover at around 14.3 million instead of hitting previous levels of around 16 million. AlixPartners also claimed current and established buyers, such as Baby Boomers, are hanging onto their cars longer and are even driving less likely due to rising fuel costs. Sales of small cars and crossovers will also likely continue "through at least 2016". For example, Chevrolet designed the Code-130R concept, which debuted at Detroit last January, specifically with Gen-Y in mind. The small, rear-wheel-drive coupe has a turbocharged 1.4-liter four pot producing 150hp and mated to a six-speed manual.

However, Chevrolet envisions a potential production version to include features such as WiFi, MyLink and smartphone connectivity - all of which are extremely popular with Gen-Y. In other words, Gen-Y views freedom as having social media access no matter where they're at - even in their cars and automakers are paying close attention to this fact.

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