I love cars. I love trucks. I love motorcycles. I love most things with engines. I love technology (even if it doesn't always agree with me). I am a millennial.
I wanted to start out by laying out some basic facts about me. I truly got pissed off after reading this post from HooniverseJeff. Dave Whatever from PopSci has a three minute video of why he is represents my generation and instructs the automotive industry (cuz, you know, he has the influence to change what they do) about how to sell vehicles to us. His credentials are that he grew up around mechanics and has access to a camera.
He doesn't like cars because not a single car is worth buying. I think we all take offense to that because there are plenty of vehicles out there worth buying. Everyone is abuzz about the Toyobaru twins. I, myself, bought a Focus ST in June. There are solid choices out there (look at that image!) as manufacturers realize that we, as a whole, are looking for more interesting vehicles...be it through performance, technology or hauling capabilities. He doesn't qualify his claim that there is not a car worth buying by putting a price range. Nope. He writes off the entire auto industry in one statement. Then he lists five points that manufacturers need to address to gain his (or apparently my) business.
1. Autonomous vehicles
He wants cars that drive themselves so that he does not have to be behind the wheel risking his life. "Robots are better." Better how? Safer? More efficient? I'll admit that if we all road around on vehicles in the way that humans are shuttled in Pixar's Wall-e things would probably go pretty smoothly. I had a discussion with a friend who sits in traffic each morning for between one and two hours. He would love to sit in an autonomous car to catch an extra hour of sleep each day. That being said, he's looking for a fun car to drive because he LIKES TO DRIVE. So "getting rid of the driver's seat" is not on his mind.
Driving is a freedom I am not willing to give up. Dave says that millennials would rather live in a neighborhood where they can walk everywhere. I don't. When I visit a city, I will walk all day. Everywhere. Miles and miles. It's easy, it's free and it's a great way to explore. However, I would never want to live in an area where I can walk to work, get food, etc. The world is larger than that 10 mile radius and to get there you need a vehicle. Not every place in the country can live within walking distance of everywhere anyways...that would create massive crowding as every millennial moved to their closest respective urban environment. Wouldn't work.
2. "Don't make me wreck the planet."
Nobody is making you wreck anything, Dave, quit being a jerk on your own. But really, how do you suggest this? More efficiency in production...ok. We're getting there. A closed loop battery recycling system? Ok. But here's the thing. Batteries are expensive. I can't back up my claims but I believe that batteries are not exactly as clean as common thought believes. The carbon footprint of that electric vehicle is not exactly tiny. Point being, Dave, this is a point that is being worked on with recycled materials being incorporated into new cars. There is and will be progress.
3. Grid that supports fast charging stations.
I'm no expert but this is a costly proposal. That being said, it is something that is seriously being worked on. Whenever an EV charging station is installed, the site has to have an audit to see how and if the electrical system in place can handle the additional load of a station. If not, that site is overhauled before the station is installed. Incorporating this into the grid on a large scale requires time and money. It's a process (one that has been started). Using this as a point to your argument is like me saying that McDonald's needs to use 100% chicken breast in its nuggets; it can't be done immediately but it's slowly getting there, but not because of me.
4. Making grid fed with clean, renewable energy.
Again, being worked on. Alternative energy sources are being explored and expanded. There are wind turbines popping up across the country and off the coast in some areas. There's a solar farm less than ten miles from my house. It's a process.
5. Make cars more affordable.
Here is the real issue. Millennials have been hit hard by the recession and other recent developments. It took me three full years of working multiple part time jobs and applying for full time positions to get an actual full time job. I still have loans. My sister just graduated and is swamped in loans. Money-wise, it's not great. It's hard to buy anything, let alone an expensive investment such as a car. So Dave says to make vehicles cheaper because we "Don't care if they're glammy." That's a crock of bull. He said that there are no cars worth buying right now. None. There are plenty of cheap vehicles out there that can get the job done. I've looked at them for my sister and she has found a few that would be nice without having all the bells and whistles. THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPTIONS OUT THERE FOR MILLENNIALS ON A BUDGET. Not to mention the used market.
So Dave wants a car that is worth buying without bells and whistles and technology. "Worth buying" and "glammy" aren't 100% mutually exclusive, but they are close. You have to pony up to get a car that you want to have...I did it for my ST and my friend did it for his Q5. My girlfriend did it for her Elantra GT. My mom did it for her Forester with the winter package. I could have bought a regular Focus. My friend could have bought any other crossover thing. My girlfriend could have bought a regular Elantra and my mom could drive around in a base Forester. But we didn't. We got the vehicles we would be happy with. All of these vehicles range in price but the point is that they were not the cheapest options because we were not happy with the cheapest options. They were not worth buying in our opinions.
Dave's perfect car for millennials is a self-driving, battery powered, recycled material vehicle that charges on a renewable fuel powered grid. Nothing in that says "cheap and affordable."
He will have to settle for base model Yaris. I'll happily take out my ST.