Millennials set to drive car ownership boom in 2021

Millennials are set to represent 45% of all first-time car buyers

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, so approximately 24 - 39 years old. According to recent results of the 2020 EY Mobility Consumer Index, which surveyed more than 3,300 consumers across nine countries, Millennials are expected to lead a car ownership boom in the coming six months across the globe, representing 45% of all first-time car owners. 

Nearly a third (31%) of non-car owners plan to buy one in the next six months, while 1 in 5 (20%) who already owns a car are open to potentially purchasing an additional vehicle. Both groups cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the top reasons for their purchases.

More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents say that they are going to be more likely to use their cars for travel in a post-pandemic world with millennials making more than half of that number (52%).

71% of non-car owners currently seeking a new car are looking to buy a gasoline or diesel model, with just 6% looking to purchase a purely electric vehicle and 23% looking to buy a hybrid.

The survey also found that public transport is taking a hit across the world, with a 69% reduction in public transport use for work overall across all nine countries surveyed. Furthermore, there has been a 61% fall in usage for leisure and entertainment pursuits, and a 53% decline for household and social travel.   

Commenting on the research insights, Yvonne Kiely, Head of EY-Seren, Ireland said;

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping all aspects of life and our approach to transport both as individuals and businesses is no exception. The results of our international mobility research point to an unexpected surge of interest among millennials in car ownership, and a surprising preference for non-electric vehicles.

“A key takeaway for the automotive industry is that car ownership appears to have growing appeal in 2021 and a new market is emerging that is keen to make purchasing decisions imminently as the global pandemic continues. This growing appeal needs to be matched by building further awareness around electric vehicles.

“With more people buying cars and car usage expected to increase, this leaves policymakers internationally with challenging issues to consider – including the accommodation of more vehicles on our roads, potential reduction in use of public transport, facilitating and incentivising the use of electric vehicles, and of course the return to public transport usage at previous levels after the pandemic.

“To counteract any citizen reluctance to return to public transport, we need to truly understand their concerns; are they around reliability, health and safety or do they seek more independence to travel outside of established public transport routes?  These must be addressed appropriately to ensure the public transport infrastructure that is key to our sustainability as a nation is embraced again. This would encompass everything from education and reassurance to widespread communications and process changes across all public infrastructure platforms and beyond.”