Freedom used to mean driving, now it means getting an Uber


When traveling (e.g. Pittsburgh this past weekend), I now prefer Uber-ing vs. renting a car. Such a weird flip: Freedom used to mean driving, now it means hailing an Uber. And once at your destination, the freedom to hop out of the car without the hassle of getting your wallet out  or finding parking or worrying about an extra glass of wine.

That’s a big structural change. And it’s about more than Uber. It’s about how we’re all connected, how we shop and the fact that more of us live in urban centers. Car makers are taking note and anticipating these changes will result in more single-car households (“My other car is an Uber”).  And will that single car be in the luxury category or something more utilitarian?

Read on below for more on business travelers’ preferences and changes in licensure. I’ve also included info on millenials and Gen Z – although some of the surveys are inconsistent – but I do believe that young people are not as car-centric as their parents were at that age.

Business travelers opting for Uber over taxis and car rentals

  • Uber rides made up 41% of expensed rides during the fourth quarter of 2015 vs. rental cars’ 39%.
  • Uber overtook taxi rides in mid-2015 (per Certify, an expense software company that analyzed over 30MM receipts in 2015).


More Americans are forgoing driver’s licenses: the only age group up since 2008 are seniors, 70-and-older

University of Michigan researchers examined changes in driver licensure in the U.S. from 1983 to 2014:

69% of 19-yr-olds had a license in 2014 vs. 87% in 1983
60% of 18 yr olds in 2014 vs. 80% in 1983
45% of 17 yr olds in 2014 vs. 69% in 1983
24% of 16 yr olds in 2014 vs. 46% in 1983

Drivers today drive fewer miles than previous generations, and modern services make it easier not to own a car.

The advent of ride-sharing apps, such as Lyft and Uber, has led to a reduction in car ownership.


Millennial teens mention cars less often on social media

  • Teenagers mentioned cars in social media 27% less often than they did six years ago (Keller Fay Group)
  • Most other consumer products have enjoyed steady increases in mentions.
  • Subaru, Audi, and Hyundai bucked the trend posting significant increases in social media mentions over the same six years.


Nissan Altima Is Tops With Millennial Buyers (Per Lending Tree)

  • In addition to Altima, other popular cars are: Dodge Charger, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Tahoe, Honda Civic, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Challenger and Toyota Camry.
  • Top cities for Millennials buying cars: Memphis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Houston, San Jose, Nashville, Buffalo, Columbus, Ohio and Los Angeles.
  • Auto loan requests from Millennials have increased from 27% in 2013 to 34% in 2016, suggesting a return of younger buyers to the car market.
  • Millennial auto loan requests are lower in densely populated urban areas, but older Millennials who are getting married, starting families, moving to more suburban areas are being enticed to buy new cars.


Gen Z (17 and younger) want to own cars

A new survey by AutoTrader and Kelley Blue Book found that Gen Z have a greater desire to get their driver’s license and buy new vehicles than millennials did at that age.

Key findings:

  • 97% plans to get a driver’s license.
  • Chevy, Ford and Honda are most desirable vs. the luxury brands (Audi and BMW) that millennials had on their wish list when they were teenagers.
  • 33% would rather have a car for a year than a cellphone.

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