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Are teens really driving away from cars?

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According to many articles I've read online and in newspapers in recent months, the under-30 crowd's interest in cars is fading. Being the mother of three young boys, I wanted to test that theory, so I asked my eldest son (who's about to turn 15) to answer a little survey along with his friends.

Well, after compiling the results of my non-scientific enquiry, I've come to the same conclusion: Today's teenagers don't care about cars as much as people from my generation.

Actually, that's not entirely true. A number of them love sports cars like Ferraris and Corvettes, not to mention Formula 1. They're also fond of racing games, such as Need for Speed and Grand Theft Auto, and have a general thirst for power, speed, and performance. However, owning a car is simply not part of their priorities.

“So, are you looking forward to having your own car, son?” I said.

“Why?” he replied.

“You know, to drive around, go to school, see your friends,...”

“I don't need a car; I have two legs and a bicycle. I can take the bus, too.” (FYI, we live in the suburbs.)

“So, if I gave you the choice between a new laptop or a car, you would pick...”

“Duh! The laptop, of course!”

“What about your driver's licence?”

“I don't know... Some day, I guess...”

My son's friends answered in similar fashion. A few of them can't wait to own a car, but they're in the small minority.

It appears the freedom we used to seek -- and find -- in automobiles has taken a different shape among today's youth. Many teenagers and Generation Y individuals prefer to walk, ride their bike, or use public transit for economical and environmental purposes. Since cars have a high ownership cost, they opt to put their money on travel, dinners at the restaurant, new technologies, and all other forms of modern entertainment.

You know what? It's really not a bad thing!

My parents viewed the automobile as a necessity. I personally rave about my minivan's practicality on any given day, but I could probably manage to live without it, even in the suburbs. As for kids nowadays, cars have mostly become a luxury they can easily afford to avoid.

No wonder automakers go to great lengths to attract young customers; they know all too well how hard it is to sell cars to this social media-driven public.

Meanwhile, my 15-year-old son won't start begging me for the keys to my minivan anytime soon...