What Gen Y wants in a car: Fuel efficiency and connectivity

Millennials see vehicles as smartphones on wheels and lean towards hybrids for their fuel efficiency

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff
2 min read

According to a study, high fuel economy and robust smartphone integration are the features most important to Generation Y car buyers.

They came of driving age when hybrids were already mainstream, and to them a hybrid power train is as reliable as conventional internal-combustion-equipped cars. To find what this increasingly important demographic wants in a car, consulting firm Deloitt LLP conducted its annual review of Gen Y consumers aged 19 to 31 in the U.S., China, and Europe. While previous generations may have lusted after horsepower and engine, Deloitt found that these savvy consumers are eyeing high fuel economy and places to plug in their mobile devices.

Generation Y is poised to steal the buying power away from the aging boomer market, and their comfort with advanced vehicle technology could accelerate the trend towards fuel efficient and electric cars. An astonishing 89 percent of Gen Y consumers are considering buying a fuel sipper, reports Deloitt, and when compared against a conventional gas-only power-train vehicle, they're willing to pay $300 more for each mile per gallon that a hybrid offers.

However, Deloitt's study noted that while 6 in 10 participants prefer a hybrid to conventionally powered vehicle, they're not that psyched about cords of any sort. Gen Y responders were twice as likely to prefer a hybrid vehicle rather than a plug-in hybrid, and only 2 in 10 were ready to give up gas all together and opt for an electric-only car.

Smartphones are the other item high on their car buying checklist. Touch-screen interfaces are must-haves for 73 percent of Gen Y consumers, 72 percent are looking for smartphone application integrations, and 77 percent would like to customize their vehicles on an ongoing basis.

They're also driving the market for advanced safety technology. After technology bundles, Gen Y respondents ranked safety bundles as their second most important priority.

"On average, they will shell out approximately $2,000 for a bundle of safety features like collision-avoidance systems, blind-spot detection and sleep alert systems," said Joe Vitale, global automotive sector leader for Deloitte.