While the Millennial/Gen Y demographic is best known for putting off getting their drivers’ licenses and visiting new vehicle dealerships, there’s a market trend to pay attention to: their used vehicle purchases.
According to JD Power’s Power Information Network (PIN), so far this year, Millennials made up 35% of used-vehicle sales. That compares with the next generation up, Gen X, coming in at 26% of these sales and Baby Boomers accounting for 32% of used vehicle sales in the first half of this year.
Used vehicle sales to this generation has increased substantially in the past five years – from 23% of used vehicle sales in 2009, 26% in 2010, 31% in 2011 and 2012, to 32% in 2012 and 35% in 2014. By comparison, statistics on Gen X has stayed consistently in the 24% to 26% range.
As for new vehicle sales, PIN says that Millennials / Gen Y accounted for 26% of new vehicles retail sales so far this year; Gen X came in at 24% of sales and Baby Boomers had the largest share at 38%. Used vehicles seem to be a very strong channel for getting younger consumers to drive their very first cars.
According to new research from AutoTrader, young shoppers, often saddled with debt, are looking for smaller, cheaper vehicles. They’re far more likely to do their research online, often with their smartphones.
“You hear a lot that this generation doesn’t care about cars,” said Isabelle Helms, AutoTrader’s vice president of research. “They do care about cars.” However, keep in mind that they “are doing these things later. They’re delaying them,” Helms said.