The race is on: Millennials boost demand for core connected car and autonomous driving features


While many people believe that Millennials shun the idea of owning a car, statistics illustrate otherwise. In fact, according to a recent study by global research and consulting firm TransUnion, consumers aged 21 through 34 are taking out new auto loans at a 21 percent higher rate than Gen X borrowers did when they were that age. This statistic is sure to please the auto industry, as it attempts to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of personal transportation.

However, while younger people are purchasing cars at a steady rate, they are focused on different aspects of vehicles than previous generations, placing a great deal of importance on advanced technological features. This focus drives 84 percent of Millennials to plan to purchase a new car for their next vehicle, in comparison to 77 percent of buyers overall, clearly illustrating this demographics' enthusiasm for having the latest high-tech offerings at their disposal. A recent study by global market research company Mintel found that 41 percent of Millennial car buyers say that they are interested in having the newest technological innovations in their next vehicle, in comparison to just 38 percent overall. As a specific example, 70 percent of Millennials who plan to purchase a vehicle within the next three years say that they are willing to pay extra for an infotainment system, in comparison to 52 percent overall and just 30 percent of Baby Boomers.

Millennials want the latest technology in their vehicles. And, not surprisingly, the auto industry is listening and reacting by developing tech-savvy models at relatively affordable prices to appeal to Millennial shoppers.

While connected cars and semi-autonomous driving features are gaining increased popularity with younger consumers, how about the concept of fully-autonomous vehicles?

Perhaps not surprisingly, Millennials are the most receptive age group to self-driving cars. A 2017 study by Edmunds found that almost 40 percent of Millennials would be willing to buy an autonomous car in less than five years, while less than 20 percent of this age group would never consider owning a self-driving vehicle. These numbers are in sharp contrast with the oldest age groups studied, with only about 15 percent of consumers over the age of 55 wanting an autonomous car in less than five years. Overall, the study found that the younger the demographic, the more likely they are to embrace new technologies, from connected cars to a future of fully-autonomous vehicles.

It's an incredibly vibrant time in the auto industry, with automakers and tech companies racing to perfect current and futuristic technology with the goal of safer roads, reduced traffic, and the eventual reality of commercially-available autonomous cars, while Millennial demand for high-tech features helps to drive innovations forward.

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