Millennials, Car Culture, And The Automotive Industry
Politics and Activism

Millennials, Car Culture, And The Automotive Industry

Are we killing two of America's most beloved institutions?

2251

As Millennials, we bear the unfortunate stigma of being lazy, entitled, and self-obsessed, among other things. We were all supposedly born with silver spoons in our mouths, rely too much on technology, and have never had to work for anything. Just as past generations have forced these sweeping generalizations upon us, they have already predicted both our social and economic impact on a world we have yet to be fully part of. Specifically, critics have heralded the death of America’s beloved car culture and automotive industry thanks to, you guessed it, Millennials. But is this actually true? And if these institutions are dying, are we responsible?

America has had a long and proud obsession with car culture and the automotive industry. Ever since Henry Ford’s Model Ts first rolled off the assembly lines in 1908, cars have been the topic of conversations, media, songs, and even literature. That’s not to say the Model T was the first American car, but it was certainly the first truly affordable one. Before the Model T and assembly line manufacturing, cars were handcrafted luxuries for the rich, with exuberant price tags and complicated mechanisms that usually required a trained chauffeur. Ford’s assembly line models not only made cars available to the middle class, but also made them immensely popular, and ultimately, cemented both cars and the automotive industry as part of America’s identity.

This sense of identity associated with cars persists to this day. BMW and Toyota Prius owners are notorious for their poor driving and parking, as cited and actually scientifically backed up in this article by the New York Times. Male owners of Hummers and other SUV are believed to be compensating for their lack of masculinity. There’s even a “Grow Your Own Hummer” toy, which supposedly grows up to 600% in size, and you can guess what that’s referencing. Regardless of whatever car you drive, it is certainly a part of your identity, whether that identity is your choice or not.

So what’s the problem? Why are Millennials being blamed for the death of car culture if these identities still exist? Well, there is a lot more to car culture than labeling drivers. Car culture isn’t restricted to the fantasy world of street racing the Fast and Furious franchise portrays either. Car culture is about seeing automobiles as more than just appliances that get you from point A to point B. Personally, I come from a family of car enthusiasts. My paternal grandfather was a car salesman, and would often bring a different car home every week, which enthralled my father and uncles. They would also attend races on the weekends, and car culture became a part of their family bond, just as it did with mine. From an early age, my brother and I were watching races, attending car shows, reading car magazines, and playing racing video games. Car culture wasn’t just an extension of our family bond; it was a foundation of our childhood. On road trips, we wouldn’t play punch buggy, we’d play “name the model, year, and horsepower.” And while car culture itself may not be as popular as it once was, that doesn’t mean it is dying, as another New York Times article claims.

As for the automotive industry, plenty of Millennials drive cars, as seen in the bustling parking lots on campus, so how are we killing it? Well, new trends such as Uber have concerned car manufacturers. But in large cities like New York, you’re much better off taking a cab, relying on public transportation, or even walking than driving. Plus, you cut back on your carbon footprint, which is always a good thing. Also, cars are not always cheap nor a necessarily beneficial investment. While you can own one for almost a third of yearly tuition at Ithaca College, this isn’t always a wise decision. The moment you drive a new car off the dealership’s lot, its value deteriorates. By the time you try to sell it used or for scrap, you’ll be lucky to make a quarter of its original value back. As such, leasing cars and assuming leases are becoming more and more popular. Leasing a car basically means instead of buying it for its sticker price, you “borrow” it for a specific amount of time (sometimes with a down payment), and make monthly payments during that time period. At that end of that time period, you return the car. Not only is this a more affordable option, but also many people are worried about owning a car that they grow to hate for years. As for assuming leases, you can take on the lease payments, and subsequent “borrowing” of the car for someone who wants out of the lease. Either way, car manufacturers will still be able to pump out new products, perhaps in smaller numbers, but they certainly won’t die.

So are Millennials killing car culture and the automotive industry? As a car enthusiast with some knowledge of the industry, I certainly don’t think so. Yes, things are going to change. Electric cars may one day put gas-guzzlers out of circulation, but that’s environmentally for the better. Will I be happy about it? Not necessarily, the thundering roar of a V8 engine and the distinct scents of gasoline and burnt rubber are things I treasure immensely. In fact, I’m a bit upset that the car I’m assuming a lease on next isn’t manual (stick shift). I personally find driving automatic so uninvolving and mind-numbing, as I learned on and prefer manual, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop loving cars. So while car culture and the automotive industry may change, Millennials aren’t going to kill either of these beloved American institutions.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

For a long time, Goya has been a staple in some Latino households. People carry around jars of Adobo when they eat at friend's houses and packets of Sazón Goya can be found in almost everyone's pantry. Many BuzzFeed lists, videos, and memes aimed at Latinos reference Goya somewhere.

But in a year that just keeps hitting us with bad news, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue said that Trump was an "incredible builder" and that the US was "blessed" to have him as president at a White House event on Thursday.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Raven Baxter Was Our Favorite Teen Fashion Icon And We're Still Recreating Her Best Looks, Here

We take a look at Disney's most fashion-forward show to recreate some iconic looks.

Disney Plus

I grew up in the early 2000s. And, like any child at the time, I was hooked on Disney Channel shows. My favorite was and is "That's So Raven."

Raven is a teenage psychic navigating life in hopes of not revealing her powers. Only her family and close friends know she has them. Her powers oftentimes get her in trouble, which is where the comedy comes in. But, they also teach her and her friends sentimental life lessons.

Keep Reading... Show less

Sobriety is so underrated, even when it comes to healthcare. The instant gratification of a substance or drink isn't exactly as gratifying as some people may think. For those of you who've never been hungover, consider yourself lucky — a hangover is biologically horrifying. A hangover is not instant gratification, so who are we kidding when people say "it just feels good." Being healthy actually feels good and won't hurt you or your bank account in the morning. The best way to be healthy is to choose sobriety.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ah, yes. The juice cleanse. Yet another popular diet trend that promises to magically solve all of your health, nutrition, and weight issues.

When you take a close look, juice cleanses aren't as magical as they are made out to be, and in fact, they might do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Unauthorized Plastic Surgery Is Totally Unethical, And Happening WAY More Often Than We Know ‬

Plastic surgery for cosmetic enhancements has you looking more botched than beautiful and it’s painful to see.

Coming from someone who could afford numerous cosmetic enhancing procedures I would never in a million years cut up my face or my body. I'm pretty emphatic and when I watch these brainwashed victims with bandages and chronic inflammation (swollen lips) I literally feel their pain.

Keep Reading... Show less

I've never been big on casual wear or athleisure. Most people who know me have never seen me in sweats. But, I do have those two or three pairs of sweats I can't resist climbing into the second I get home, the newest addition of which is the extra cozy Odyssey crewneck sweatshirt I got in an XL size to feel as close to being wrapped in a blanket at all times as possible.

In the past several months, I've started to expand my horizons, considering the ways in which I can bring my small wardrobe of comfortable bedroom clothing into the public. I've experimented with topping leggings and a sports bra with a denim jacket to the park, and an oversized sweatshirt worn as a dress, cinched at the waist with a belt when I'm out wearing leggings.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

How To Dress Like Your Favorite 'Insecure' Characters — Without Spending $2,000

We take a look at the fashion of Insecure season 4, and how you can create these looks yourself.

HBO

Insecure is one of my favorite shows ever. It really encapsulates what it's like being a Black 20-something, trying to navigate the many ups and downs of life. Issa, Molly, Kelli, and Tiffany are living their best lives in California while dealing with the twists and turns that come with that.

From life to relationships to careers, this show truly captures everything that runs through my mind on a daily basis. The show has a sense of realness and a strong frankness that makes you gravitate toward the characters and root for their success.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Making A Food Instagram Was The Greatest Silver Lining To Come Out Of My COVID-19 Experience

With the crazy and scary times that 2020 has brought, find comfort in the one thing everyone loves: food.

The waiter briskly moves towards us and stops just a foot away table, balancing the black serving tray stacked high with the ceramic plates that make-up our dinner. From memorization, he beings gently, but purposely, sliding everyone's orders in front of them and within seconds I'm am starring my meal.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments