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Millennials Will Influence Auto Trends In The Coming Years

Millennials Will Influence Auto Trends In The Coming Years

November 25, 2015

Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000, make up more than a quarter of Canada’s population, and they’re buying more new vehicles than ever before.

Statistics from global market research company J.D. Power show that in the U.S., millennials make up 27 per cent of new vehicle sales, right behind baby boomers. The situation in Canada is similar – and the automotive industry is taking notice.

What millennials want in a vehicle will be a key influence for auto trends in the coming years. Research firms are already starting to explore what this new generation of buyers looks for in a car.

For example, Autotraders, an online automotive marketplace that aggregates millions of for-sale vehicles, did a comprehensive survey of millennial buying habits in 2013. It found that for most millennials, a car is a practical purchase. They opt for proven mainstream brands like Honda, Toyota, and Ford, and more than 80 per cent of young millennials say cost is the primary reason they don’t own a vehicle.

However, when asked what brands they preferred, millennials were more likely to align themselves with luxury manufacturers such as Audi, Mercedes, and Lexus. They were also more open than older generations to buying import brands such as Nissan and Mazda. Experts say these preferences are a good indicator of future market trends.

As internet natives, millennials also emphasize technology when looking for a new vehicle. The same Autotraders survey found that 80 per cent of millennials deem vehicle infotainment features connected to their smartphone as essential.

Millennials aren’t just interested in entertainment tech though. A 2015 consumer research report from Ford on upcoming trends found that millennials also look for autonomous driving technologies such as blind spot detection and parking assist.

According to Ford, this stems from a fear of driving. A poll by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland conducted on behalf of the manufacturer found that 88 per cent of millennials fear ‘other motorists driving dangerously’ more than they fear public speaking, death, spiders, and snakes.

Millennials also look for a different buying experience than older generations. A survey by, an online resource for auto information and prices, found that 80 per cent of millennials use their mobile phone for at least one car-shopping task, much higher than the 46 per cent of adults age 35 and over.

Millennials also tend to research purchasing decisions more thoroughly and depend more heavily on word-of-mouth when buying a new vehicle.

From infotainment to autonomous features, millennial buying patterns will have a heavy influence in the years to come as more and more young people buy their first new vehicles. There’s something to be learned from millennial buying patterns though. Tactics like thoroughly researching a vehicle, focusing on safety features, and staying open to a range of brands are all good strategies when buying a new car.

For the 35 per cent of millennials in the market to buy a vehicle, our New Car Dealers are here to help. Stop by a dealership to test out some of the makes and models we have on offer and find out what’s best for you.

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

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