Whereas a driver’s license once was a symbol of freedom, teenagers are reaching their driving age at a time when most have access to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to shuttle them around town. At the same time, social media and video chat let them hang out with friends without actually leaving the house.
When they reach their 20s, more are moving to big cities with mass transit, where owning a car is neither necessary nor practical. And of those who do buy a car, many more than in older generations opt for a used one, according to J.D. Power.
One reason for that is rising new-vehicle prices. Detroit has jettisoned many of their lower-priced compact and subcompact cars like the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Cruze that have traditionally been starter cars for young buyers. For the auto makers, the strategy makes sense: Sport-utility vehicles or trucks have steadily become more popular over the past decade, and also have much better profit margins.