Study: Gen Z wants cars, values fuel efficiency

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Forget hot-selling compact SUVs and trucks; today’s youngest buyers want cars.

MaritzCX, a data company that conducts a yearly new vehicle customer survey, found members of Generation Z — those ages 16-21 — value fuel-efficiency, prefer cars over sport utilities and trucks, and prefer Ford Motor Co. over any other brand.

“Making decisions based on fuel economy and value explains why these buyers tend to shop brands like Ford, which builds vehicles that prioritize these attributes,” said Chris Travell, vice president for strategic consulting at Salt Lake City-based MaritzCX.

The study — which surveyed 1,061 young car-buyers — found four of the top five vehicle segments for Gen Z buyers are cars rather than sport utilities or trucks. About 41.1 percent opt for compact cars, 14.7 percent shop midsize sedans, and 11.6 percent shop subcompact cars.

Among all vehicles sold in the United States last year, car segment purchases accounted for 32 percent.

Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s futurist, said Gen Z buyers are “more frugal” than their older counterparts, and appreciate getting the most value for the brand of vehicle they buy. They also tend to be more nostalgic and prefer brands with a strong history.

The MaritzCX study found Gen Z buyers most seriously consider buying Ford, followed by Toyota and Chevrolet-brand cars.

The study comes a month after MTV looked at millennials — those ages 18 to 35 — and discovered they like to drive a lot. The study found 80 percent of millennials get around most often by car as opposed to any other form of transportation, and most would rather give up social media than their vehicles.

But MartizCX studied even younger buyers because of their future purchasing power. Gen Z represents 2 billion people, about 21 percent of the world’s total population and 25 percent of the U.S. population. By 2020, their purchasing power will be more than $3.2 trillion.

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