Is the American automobile lifestyle disappearing?

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Owning a car has long been considered a birthright for the American people. It’s our “coming-of-age” tradition that young people would strive for because it embodied independence and success. If you still believe that, then it may surprise you that the American car culture could be disappearing.

That idea isn’t popular with us either, after all it is our business. But we are car people too, and we understand that lower interest in car ownership and driving could mean the end of “the car.” To clarify, we mean the end of owning a car that we can use to go anywhere that we want, at any time, and sometimes enjoy it for the design and engineering that went into it.

It started with the millennial and younger generations.  They grew up through the major advancements in consumer technology and the Internet and most of them value smart phone ownership greater than car ownership. They can meet with their friends online and virtually satisfy their social needs. Teenagers are getting a driver’s license as late as ages 18 or 19 and some still choose to not get one. Those that do drive have little interest in learning about what’s under the hood (some don’t even know how to open it up). They’re content with knowing that it works, how to fill up the tank, and that they can call someone to fix it for them.

We’re not knocking all of them, there is a small percentage of that age group who enjoy tinkering and modifying their rides, but that percentage will get smaller. It’s only a matter of time before cars with fully autonomous features are available for purchase. When that happens, driving will soon be left to the machines for the non-enthusiasts. Could it one day become mandatory for all cars to be driven autonomously at all times?

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We talk about autonomous cars a lot on here, check out our post Should Your Vehicle Ever Control You?

Another threat to the automobile is the strong push towards more efficient vehicles and public transportation. In July of this year, the city of Paris will ban all pre-1997 cars and pre-1999 motorcycles/scooters on weekdays. This is to help reduce the city’s pollution levels. For the same reason, the capital city of Norway will ban all cars from the city center by 2019. Thankfully it hasn’t gotten that extreme here, but it very well could get to that point. If you have enough people on board, you should expect it to start creeping into our cities.

Automobiles are practically a necessity for any working American. It’s hard for us to imagine living without our own car or truck to get around. But it seems that the world is moving away from this lifestyle and sadly we will have to adjust to this fact. What do you see happening to the American car culture in the future?

 

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