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商业 - 汽车

年轻一代为什么不爱买车了

Nin-Hai Tseng 2013年08月20日

调查显示,55岁以上的人群依然是买车的主力军,而且比重还在上升;而18-24岁的年轻人中,买车的人却在减少。的确,年轻人不买车一方面是因为经济不景气,荷包里没钱。但真正的问题是他们不再认为开车是一件时髦的事——甚至连必需的事都算不上。

    2002年,日本汽车厂商本田汽车(Honda)推出了一款名叫“Element”的箱型SUV,希望能吸引二十来岁喜欢户外运动的年轻人。这辆车后座上方有个天窗,是专门用来装冲浪板的。后备箱非常宽敞,足够放下山地自行车。

    但不管本田怎么努力想抓住年轻车主,结果都无济于事。相反,Element很快在40多岁、50多岁乃至60多岁的婴儿潮一代中迅速走红。对本田来说这当然不是坏事,能卖出产品固然好,只是这种情况使美国汽车业面临的一个更大、也更严峻的困境凸显了出来:怎么才能把车卖给千禧一代呢?

    汽车厂商和多数消费品公司一样,也喜欢设法尽早吸引年轻人。它会帮助年轻人建立品牌忠诚度——也就是说,如果你买的第一辆车是本田,那你可能今后一辈子都喜欢买本田。不过现在要想做到这一点变得越来越困难了。并不是说年轻人不买车了——有研究表明,他们只是会推迟了购买而已。这些情况都让人难免担心,汽车厂商现在对千禧一代投入这么大精力到底是不是值得?

    早就有报道称,大萧条让年轻人债务累累、找不到工作,使他们不太可能买包括汽车在内的成年人专属用品。专业汽车行业网站Edmunds.com称,去年55岁及以上的购车者占全部新车销售对象的比例超过40%,比2008年的33%上升了不少。年纪较大的购车者一直就是汽车销售对象的主力军,但买车的年轻人却更少了。去年,18-34岁的购车者仅占新车购买人数的12%,比五年前的14%略有下降。

    面对这种情况,汽车厂商已通过创新营销方式来积极应对。比如道奇(Dodge)和现代汽车(Hyundai)就推出了“众筹”项目,旨在帮购车人从亲戚朋友那里筹集资金来支付首付。这种做法可能有助于提振一点销量,但有研究表明,现在汽车厂商面临的困难远远超过大萧条的后续影响。

    并不仅仅是因为汽车对囊中羞涩的年轻人来说显得更加昂贵了,还因为开车已经不像以前那么酷了。

    上周三,密歇根大学(University of Michigan)发布的一项最新研究指出,不开车的年轻人中超过三分之一表示,他们太忙了,没时间考驾照,超过五分之一甚至根本就没打算学开车。

    一项针对618位没有驾照的40岁以下人群所作的调研中,密歇根大学交通研究所(Transportation Research Institute)再次证明了2010年一项调研的结论,即开车的魅力一直都在减退。受访对象中,37%的人表示自己太忙或没时间考驾照;32%的人表示拥有、保养汽车太贵,31%的人则可以通过拼车的方式解决交通问题。

    有一些其他因素有助于说明这种趋势背后的原因:一些大城市正在推广自行车共用项目;这项研究称,很多年轻人离开了郊区,前往有公共交通的城区。

    不过更让人震惊的是,互联网可能也已让开车成了负担,而不再是便利。如果能在家里工作,干嘛还开车上班呢;如果什么都能在网上买,干嘛还开车去购物中心呢?

    密歇根大学这份研究报告的三位作者之一、布兰登•舒勒特表示:“在开车的问题上已出现了一种文化转变。”

    When Japanese carmaker Honda launched a boxy SUV called the Element in 2002, it hoped to draw outdoorsy twenty something buyers. The vehicle sported a sunroof in the backseat -- room for your surfboard. The trunk was plenty spacious, big enough to haul your mountain bike.

    However Honda (HMC) may have tried to hook in young drivers, the company learned it wasn't working; the Element quickly became a hit with baby boomers in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. This wasn't exactly bad news for Honda. A sale is a sale, after all, but the outcome highlights a bigger -- and growing -- dilemma for the broader U.S. auto industry: How to sell to millennials?

    Like most consumer companies, automakers like to appeal to young people early on. It helps them build brand loyalty -- the idea that if your first car was, say, a Honda, so might your last. That job, however, is becoming increasingly difficult. It's not that young adults aren't buying cars -- studies suggest they could just be delaying the purchase. All this makes it hard not to wonder if all the attention automakers pay to millennials is even worth it.

    It has been widely reported that the Great Recession has hobbled young people in debt and joblessness, making them less likely to buy some of the staples of adulthood, including cars. Last year, buyers 55 and older accounted for more than 40% of all new car sales, up from 33% in 2008, according to Edmunds.com, an online auto industry information provider. Older drivers have long dominated sales, but fewer young people are buying cars. Last year, 18- to 34-year-olds represented only 12% of new car purchases, down from 14% five years ago.

    Carmakers have responded in innovative ways. Dodge and Hyundai have launched crowdfunding programs geared to help buyers round up contributions from friends and family toward down payments. The effort might help generate some more sales, but studies suggest the challenges automakers face go well beyond the residual effects of the Great Recession.

    It's not just that cars have become less affordable for cash-strapped young adults, it's also that, well, driving simply doesn't seem as cool as it once was.

    More than a third of young adults who don't drive say they are too busy to get a driver's license, and more than a fifth don't plan to ever learn to drive, according to a new study released Wednesday by the University of Michigan.

    In a survey of 618 adults under 40 years old who don't have a driver's license, the university's Transportation Research Institute reaffirmed a 2010 study and found that the allure of driving has continued to fade. Of those surveyed, 37% say they are too busy or do not have enough time to get a driver's license; 32% say that owning and maintaining a vehicle is too expensive and 31% are able to catch a ride with others.

    A few other factors explain the trend: There's the growth of bike share programs in some major cities; many young adults have ditched the suburbs for urban areas with public transportation, according to the survey.

    What's perhaps most striking, however, is that the Internet may have also made driving more of a hassle than a convenience. Why drive to work when you can work remotely from home; why drive to shopping centers when you can order virtually anything online?

    "There's been a cultural shift," says Brandon Schoettle, one of three authors of the University of Michigan study.

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