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Driving? The Kids Are So Over It

In 1983, the first year Mr. Sivak began analyzing the ages of drivers based on licensing data, the percentage of 16-year-olds with driver’s licenses was 46%. By 2008, it had fallen to less than a third and in 2014, it hit a low point of 24.5%. It was up slightly to 26% in 2017, which Mr. Sivak said was likely due to the economy improving.
-- Maggie Shannon, The Wall Street Journal

I can attest to that! My two daughters, both 18, split right down the middle - one getting her license on her 16th birthday, and the other still without her license. My 14-year old is noncommittal, at this point (literally "meh...") . I'm not sold on the permanence of this trend, though. Urbanization is already starting to turn and, of course, generation AA (AA comes after Z, right?) has grown-up in cars, because their parents are older than previous generations. I'm pretty confident that generation Z is going to come around on cars, as they move out of expensive and crime-ridden urban centers and start toting kids around.

But as Maggie Shannon notes in her article, cars are expensive. We've got multiple airbags, rearview cameras, anti-lock brakes, emission computers, and sophisticated automatic transmissions, and none of that comes cheap. In fact, I'd posit that the "fixed cost" in any automobile, has killed the cheap sedan in this country and kept used car prices higher. From my own perspective, the last new car I bought was in 2005 - not because I can't afford it, but I don't want to take-on debt and I don't want to spend that kind of money on a car! And I love cars.

One thing that Maggie did not explore in her article, was the impact of ride-hailing companies on the rental car companies, which are huge buyers of new cars. I still rent a car on business and personal trips, but I have a lot of friends and family that just go with ride-hailing. Even if it is a small percentage of all travelers, that still has to be a huge impact to the auto manufacturers, and even the used car market since they rollover their rental fleets so often.

-- Scrib