Millennials Like Cars, Dislike EVs: Survey

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Contrary to widely held beliefs millennials think driving is important. Additionally, motorists do not see electric vehicles as viable transportation options in the medium term. These are just a couple of the findings from the 2015 Continental Mobility Study

It’s common knowledge that young people prefer iPhones and Twitter to automobiles and in-person interaction, or is it? According to Conti’s research 84 percent of respondents between the ages of 16 and 25 believe driving is important. Surprisingly, 76 percent of these individuals drive just about every day.

Research for this report was conducted in the second half of 2014. It includes a representative sample of 2,300 drivers in the U.S. and 1,800 in Germany. Additionally, a qualitative survey of 400 vehicle owners in each of the following countries was included: France, Japan, China the U.S. and Germany.

Connectivity is Key

Cars may be more important to millennials than most people think, but consumer electronics are still king with this demographic. In fact 91 percent of individuals surveyed placed high importance on these devices.

While 65 percent of those surveyed by Continental indicated they’d like to own a vehicle equipped with internet connectivity, 73 percent of 16-to-25-year-olds voiced their interest in this technology. Clearly younger people want vehicles that are connected.

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But, “It’s not just technology,” cautioned Helmut Matschi, member of Continental AG’s executive board president of their interior division. “The market has to be prepared for it.”

Automakers and suppliers can’t simply take a shotgun approach and blast all kinds of electronic features and add-ons at their vehicle lineups. Safety and usability are obvious requirements of any automotive system but that’s not all. “Security is an important element that needs to be taken care of,” noted Matschi. Nobody wants hackers to compromise their personal information, which is a real concern these days.

Ownership Trends

Another potential misconception is that millennials aren’t interested in owning a vehicle. As the narrative goes, they’d rather use a car-sharing service or take public transportation. But according to this study 94 percent of American respondents own their own vehicles and only 1 percent of them go the car-sharing route.

Matschi said these numbers are very similar in Europe verses the U.S., which is “a bit surprising.” He said they thought a change in behavior would have kicked in by now.

Still, Matschi noted, “Young people and elderly people … see driving as sustainable and fun.”

It’s projected that millennials will purchase some 65 million vehicles in the next five years. Bucking commonly held beliefs younger people still want to own cars, but vehicles will have to become smarter and better connected to keep them happy.

Going Green, Singing the Blues

The thought of going green is making many drivers blue, another finding in Continentals 2015 Mobility Study. Fully electric vehicles were seen as being environmentally friendly by 71 percent of Americans surveyed, though these cars still ranked poorly in other areas.

Only 31 percent of U.S. respondents viewed them as being pleasurable to drive while just 38 percent found their designs attractive. Also, a mere 27 percent of people surveyed thought EVs were sporty. Despite their benefits these cars clearly have an image problem, especially when their higher sticker prices are factored into the equation.

And if all of this wasn’t bad enough news for EVs, fewer drivers expect to use a fully electric car within the next decade. Just 21 percent of people between 31 and 59 years old thought EVs were a viable transportation solution. That figure is down 10 percent compared to Continental’s 2011 Mobility Study.

SEE ALSO: Driving the Future with Continental

The situation is similar with millennial motorists as well. Just 24 percent of drivers aged 16 to 30 expected to use an EV in the next decade, a 9 percent difference. This is the demographic that loves electronics, just not when they have four wheels.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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