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Coronavirus kicks younger car buyers into gear as thoughts on ride sharing sours

A new study shows those who've never owned a car are changing their mind to minimize health risks associated with public transport and ride sharing.

We might see more younger car buyers than ever, thanks to the coronavirus.
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Younger generations have, historically, been slightly less inclined to purchase a car and take part in vehicle ownership than older generations. Public transportation and the advent of ride sharing helped shape their thoughts, but it appears the coronavirus pandemic is starting to make the age group have second thoughts.

According to a new study from Capgemini that looked at populations in major countries around the world, those under age 35 are now seriously considering buying a car. The shift in thinking comes as they correlate health and safety risks associated with shared transportation, like Uber, Lyft or even a local bus network. A whopping 75% of those surveyed said buying their own car will give them greater control of hygiene.

Diving into the numbers (keep in mind this is a global picture that encompasses the US, Europe and Asia), 79% of those aged 25 to 35 have historically not owned a vehicle, but 45% of those under age 35 are now interested in owning one. Of those aged 18 to 24 that do own a car, 30% of them now plan to make their vehicle the main form of transportation to replace public transportation and ride-sharing services. A large portion, 44%, said they plan to curb ride-sharing use due to health concerns. For all age groups, 46% plan to use their cars more often and think less about grabbing a bus, train or subway. Continuing the hygiene trend, a whopping 59% said they'd pay a premium for features like germ filters.

For some US-specific data, 45% of those under 35 are now interested in buying a car (compared to 34% of all ages in the US) and contrary to previous studies, it appears the pandemic really started to shift the purchasing model. While old data showed young buyers still preferred the dealership experience, this latest study shows 49% of potential car buyers under 35 are keen to avoid dealership visits to shop deals. Globally the figure sits at 46%, up from 39% before the COVID-19 disease began circulating. We've already seen automakers push home delivery options in a big way.

This shift in sentiment could represent a massive opportunity for automakers as younger buyers start trickling into showrooms at higher rates. However, the study shows there are still hurdles. Younger buyers who aren't in the market underscored it's because they can't afford a new vehicle at current prices. If they could, 57% of those aged 18 to 24 say they'd shop for a new car, and 51% aged 25 to 35 said the same. Here, it's an economic factor.

We won't know the lasting effects of the pandemic on the auto industry -- and society as a whole -- for some time, but early data already seems to show we're on a much different trajectory than once thought. It looks like good news for automakers, and perhaps tougher days ahead for ride-sharing services.

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