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Buying your own vehicle has been a rite of passage for generations. Going to the dealership and driving away with your first vehicle is a familiar story for many in decades past.

However, there has been much speculation about today’s younger generations that their particular spending habits could bring about the end of car ownership in North America.

And indeed, we’re seeing a much different buying pattern when it comes to millennials. Today’s young people tend to be subscription-based (think Netflix and Apple Music). Their repeat costs are very much a part of their monthly expenses and they’re very open to car-sharing services like Evo, Car2go, Uber and Lyft, just to name a few.

While car sharing and car sharing apps are certainly on the rise, this doesn’t mean that all millennials no longer prefer to own vehicles.

A study conducted by J.D. Power & Associates’ Power Information Network revealed that young peoples’ love for cars is  as strong as ever. As the economy improves and young people embark on different stages of life, millennials are still seeing the need to own a vehicle, with factors like starting a family, convenience, and professional connectivity driving this need.

In fact, millennials are forecasted to be the fastest growing demographic of car buyers, and will represent 40 per cent of the new car market by 2020 according to the same study. Just last year, millennial car buying accounted for 29 per cent of the car-buying market in America, with 4.1 million new car purchases.

It’s true that while millennials have been delaying car buying, there has been a recent surge in ownership from the younger generation as they grow up and start settling down.

Another recent study from 2017 titled Accel + Qualtrics Millennial Study saw that 80 per cent of today’s millennials own cars and that 75 per cent of the millennials who do not own a car actually aspire to do so in the future.

Although millennials are still shopping for cars, the way they do it now is very different from previous generations, thanks largely to new technology and the Internet. These car buyers research and compare models long before arriving at the dealership and are incredibly knowledgeable about vehicle attributes, specs and pricing options.

Where baby boomers today prioritize vehicle safety and comfort, things like in-vehicle technology that can integrate with smartphones and sync seamlessly with tech gadgets rank highest on today’s list of young peoples’ “must-haves” for new cars. It’s also no surprise that the younger generations have a more positive outlook on new technology like autonomous cars and electric vehicles (EV’s).

With over 24 EV models available for Clean Energy Vehicle purchase incentives in the BC market, and exciting new designs being rolled out every year, more and more millennials are turning to green technology to get around.

Regardless of age or generation, the best way to purchase a car is to shop around and test drive various models to find one that fits your lifestyle. And, while it is important to research and compare different models online, nothing beats seeing the car for yourself at the dealership and checking how your phone syncs with the vehicle. Visit your local new car dealer to see all the latest makes and models the industry has to offer.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].