While, Stateside, suburban soccer moms may still be plowing down narrow streets with their wide-berth S.U.V.s, a new generation of Japanese have deemed the car superfluous. The Wall Street Journal reports that many young Japanese have decided not to use a car, because it’s just not necessary.
While overseas car sales continue to thrive, Japanese automakers are trying new tactics to appeal to the kids at home.
From the WSJ:
"We are going to have to work hard to attract future generations of drivers — people who find it difficult to love the car," says Francois Bancon, who heads a Nissan division charged with designing next-generation automobiles.
The auto industry’s appeal to youth, however, doesn’t seem to be working.
The WSJ reports:
Since the peak in 1990, Japanese car makers’ domestic sales have dropped 31% to nearly three million automobiles in 2007, even as their exports rose 30% to 5.8 million vehicles.
Gas prices and an aging population are partly to blame, but there’s a greater change at work: young consumers don’t love cars as much as their parents did, concludes market research by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and Nissan. “Having grown up with the Internet,” reports the WSJ, “they no longer depend on a car for shopping, entertainment and socializing and prefer to spend their money in other ways.”
Survey results show that Japanese youth aren’t begging for wheels, as in generations past.
From the WSJ:
A survey last year of 1,700 Japanese in their 20s and 30s by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan’s biggest business newspaper, discovered that only 25% of Japanese men in their 20s wanted a car, down from 48% in 2000. The manufacturers’ association found that men 29 years old and younger made up 11% of Japanese drivers in 2005, roughly half the size of that group in 1993.
The trend may be taking hold elsewhere, too. Four years ago, Nissan surveyed 16-to-20-year-olds in Japan, the U.S., Europe and China on their feelings about cars. Their findings? “…Many youths world-wide felt cars were unnecessary and even uncool because they pollute and cause congestion,” Bancon told the WSJ. Youth in Tokyo were especially emphatic about not needing a car, as the city offers excellent (read: inexpensive and reliable) mass transit and ample Internet and computer access.
American kids may be catching on, as well, as fewer teens are applying for a driver’s license.
Photo via flickr by ionushu.