Lang Aftermarket iReport: Over 45% Of Gen Z teens do not drive
“More than 40% of Gen Z Americans (born after 2000) who are 19 years old do not have a driver’s license. This is more than double the share of like-aged Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) without a license in 1983. But it does not end there. Over 48% of U.S. teens 16 to 18 years old do not drive.
“The declining share of teenagers who do not drive is slowing the population growth of licensed drivers. This trend has significant implications for vehicle use and aftermarket product volume.”
— Jim Lang, publisher, Lang Aftermarket iReport
Slower Growth of Licensed Drivers
The population of licensed drivers in the U.S. increased approximately 10% between 2009 and 2019. This is slower than the growth rate during the preceding 10 years.
Licensed drivers are a primary catalyst that fuels the trifecta of vehicle ownership, miles driven, and aftermarket product volume. Future aftermarket expansion could be slowed by the declining growth of licensed drivers in the U.S.
Automobile Love Affair Over for Gen Z
Americans have been famous for their love affair with automobiles. No other country has a ratio of vehicles to persons of driving age even close to the density in the U.S.
However, Americans’ special relationship with their “rides” is diminishing, especially among the youth.
The attitude towards automobiles of most Americans under 30 years old differs from the attitudes of previous car-loving generations.
Cultural Changes Among Young Americans
How young Americans feel about vehicles has been shaped largely by two forces: environmental concerns and social media. Both are altering the relationship of young Americans to vehicles and their interest in driving.
Currently, nearly a majority of Americans 18 to 30 believe that reduced vehicle use would improve the environment. This is a significant factor since environmental preservation is among the top three values of Americans in this age group.
Social Media Replaces Driving
The growth of social media among young Americans is another factor reducing their vehicle use and encouraging many to opt out of getting a driver’s license. Just a few decades ago it was a rite-of-passage for U.S. teenagers to get a driver’s license, but not so today.
For many young Americans, travelling to see friends is unnecessary since they can interact with them through social media from virtually anywhere.
Environmental concerns, social media, and other cultural factors are damping the interest of many young Americans in driving and reshaping their perceptions of vehicles.
More Teenagers Waiting to Drive (Boomers vs. Gen Z)
More than 86% of 19-year old Baby Boomers during 1983 had a driver’s license. This percentage has dropped sharply and by 2010, 75% of Americans 19 years old were driving.
This trend has continued, and Lang Market estimates that currently over 4 in 10 of Gen Z Americans who are 19 years old do not have a driver’s license. An even larger share of younger Americans of driving age (16 to 18) have not bothered to get a license.
The changing attitudes of young Americans have important implications for vehicle use as well as aftermarket growth.
One possible outcome of such a culture change is the evolution of the automobile (in the minds of consumers) into a service that is hired, rather than something to be owned.
The widespread adoption of transportation as a service (TaaS) is a natural transition into the widespread use of driverless vehicles (depending on when they reach Level 5 performance). All of this has significant implications for the future aftermarket.
Six Major Takeaways
- Over 40% of 19-year-olds (Gen Z) do not have a driver’s license, more than double the share of like-aged Baby Boomers without a license in 1983. Over 48% of U.S. teens 16 to 18 years old do not drive.
- American’s love affair with automobiles is over for Gen Z. Environmental concerns and social media are the two strongest factors reshaping the attitudes of young Americans toward vehicle use.
- Nearly a majority of Americans 18 to 30 years old believe that reduced vehicle use will help to improve the environment. This is significant since environment preservation is among the top three values held by this age group.
- For many young Americans, driving to meet friends is unnecessary since they can interact with them through social media from virtually any location.
- The combination of environment concerns, social media and other cultural factors has reduced the interest of many young Americans in driving.
- Reflecting the changing attitudes of many young Americans, vehicles could evolve from a product to be owned into a service to be hired (TaaS). Vehicle sharing along with driverless vehicles should change how Americans use and own vehicles as well as the design of vehicles. All of this has major implications for the aftermarket.
Copyright 2020 by Lang Marketing Resources, Inc.
NOTE: Special thanks to publisher Jim Lang for granting us permission to publish the Lang Aftermarket iReport.