Can MTV Save the Car Industry?

Jordan Weissmann explores why Millennials are delaying car ownership and whether automakers can look to marketing partners such as MTV to bring back interest in car culture among a younger generation.

There was a time when teenagers couldn't wait to turn 16 and enjoy the freedoms that driving their own car meant. This isn't the case with Millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, who have given car makers something to worry about. According to CNW research, "adults between the ages of 21 and 34 buy just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, a far cry from the peak of 38 percent in 1985."

According to Weissman, "The billion-dollar question for automakers is whether this shift is truly permanent, the result of a baked-in attitude shift among Millennials that will last well into adulthood, or the product of an economy that's been particularly brutal on the young." Weissmann offers an array of reasons, with explanations ranging from the worsening state of the economy and increased living in urban city environments to the peripatetic, wandering nature of this generation as opposed to their parents and grandparents generation.

To compensate, companies like GM are recruiting youth oriented marketing executives such as John McFarland and the consulting group MTV Scratch to try to reinvent their car concept and convince Millennials to buy in. "The strategy is to infuse General Motors with the same insights that made MTV reality shows like 'Jersey Shore' and 'Teen Mom' breakout hits."

One approach "inspired new Chevrolet colors, like "techno pink," "lemonade" and "denim," aimed at "a 23-year-old who shops at H&M and Target and listens to Wale with Beats headphones," said Rebecca Waldmeir, a color and trim designer for Chevrolet.

Full Story: Why Don't Young Americans Buy Cars?

Comments

Comments

Automotivist propaganda

I can't quite tell if the article, itself, is yet another display of the automotivist propaganda so prevalent in our society, or if it's merely highlighting how companies that profit from automotivism and the oil wars required by it try to indoctrinate young people increasingly turned off by the myriad ills of car culture and get them to embrace it.

Either way, we're tired of suburban sprawl and alienation; neighborhood-destroying freeways; traffic gridlock; road spending that hurts social services; white flight; inner city decay; burst housing bubbles; treasury-busting oil wars and the terrorist reprisals that result from them; shady banking and weapons deals that corrupt our government; and the threat of catastrophic environmental collapse, including global warming, the melting of the polar ice caps and the flooding of the world's major cities---all of which are directly related to our sick love affair with the car.

It has to stop.

If the powers that be, including trashy, wannabe-hip, corporate media outlets like MTV, don't get it, then it should be their failure, not ours.

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95