Gen Z: Less Car Ownership

The way cars are perceived by younger generations has changed drastically over the last few years. Gen Z no longer considers cars to be the most convenient or ‘best’ transport mode available. Now, people born between 1997 and 2005 are responsible for creating an entirely new mobility culture, one that is focused on sharing instead of ownership. 

In fact, members of Gen Z are not particularly enthusiastic about obtaining driver’s licenses: since the 1990s, the number of driver’s licenses acquired by young people has fallen by 40% in the UK. It’s clear that Generation Z takes a different approach when it comes to buying, renting, or owning automobiles.

We interviewed 4 members of Gen Z from Switzerland, Ukraine, Vietnam, and France to understand their attitudes towards owning a car. 

Flexible lifestyle over fancy assets

One of Gen Z’s main traits is the desire to have the freedom to decide where they want to work, study or relax. 

As a member of Gen Z, I think I have a lot of opportunities to move around – something as permanent as a car feels like it is holding me back.” – Thang, 23-year-old from Vietnam

Owning a car does not fit with Gen Z’s typically transient lifestyle, which is often defined by travel or having the ability to move somewhere else relatively spontaneously. 

The main reason why I don’t want to have a car now is that with my lifestyle, having one is more of a liability than an asset. I travel quite often and thus wouldn’t use it as much.” – Yana, 23-year-old from Ukraine 

Maintaining a car is expensive

According to the Irish Times, prices on used cars are 56% higher now than at the beginning of the pandemic. Taking into account the global “Great Resignation”, which caused a rapid change in workplace dynamics, and the feeling that regular incomes are relatively unstable or uncertain, owning a car is often simply outside of Gen Z’s budget. Particularly when there’s a great public transit system in place, cars lose their relevance as a main mode of transport. 

“I live in Europe where public transport is pretty good, and I save money by not needing to pay for parking. It takes less time and is more efficient when transiting through cities, and I don’t need to pay for gas.” – Amy, a 24-year-old from Switzerland

Public transport is a convenient alternative

Gen Z realizes that cars have less value for people living in cities. Public transit systems are often more advanced:  “In a big city, everything is designed for the use of common transport such as the metro, bike, and bus.” – Nicolas, a 21-year-old from France

 The second reason is traffic jams. “In big cities, having a car – in my opinion – is also not super convenient because of the traffic.” – Yana from Ukraine

Additionally, public transportation systems in Europe allow Gen Z to choose from varieties of mobility options. “Public transport in Europe and America really suits my style of living and is also convenient.” – Thang from Vietnam

Gas-powered mobility increases pollution 

Gen Z’s push for sustainable living is the result of the belief that change starts with themselves. According to Forbes, 40% of Gen Z and Millenials think that more people will continue with environmentally healthy habits – from recycling to choosing sustainable mobility options – after the pandemic is over. 

“I’d like to think that our generation is also more aware of the problem of how single car use is affecting our environment.” – Nicolas from France

Therefore, even if a member of Gen Z decides to buy a car, they often would prefer to buy an electric vehicle. “I think oil is a terrible industry, and I always said if I get a car, it will be an electric one.” – Amy from Switzerland

Gen Z sees cars as one part of a larger mobility system

Members of Gen Z are the world’s future employees. Being able to understand their needs creates an open-minded, convenient, and sustainable working environment that’s conducive to productivity and efficiency. 

Trafi’s mobility budget product for businesses provides employees with a variety of sustainable mobility choices, all of which are accessible from one app – and that has Gen Z written all over it.

Read more about Trafi for Business here.