November 28, 2020


Millennials are said to despise the fossil-fuel powered car, embrace public transport, worry about climate change above all else and are firmly behind environmentalists’ plans to bring forward the day when the sale of the traditional automobile is banned.

But that was before the coronavirus struck.

According to a survey across 9 nations undertaken by global consultancy EV, millennials (aged between 24 and 39) are reversing all these assumptions because the coronavirus has made public transport an unattractive prospect, with its requirement for facemasks and the inevitable close proximity to the unknown. The individual, sealed automobile is now a coveted object of desire for getting to work and play.

So far so shocking for the conventional wisdom.

The headline finding of the report was that nearly 1/3 of people without a car intend to buy one in the next six months, and 45% of those will be millennials. There will be a global boom in car buying in the next six months, not least because of pent-up demand.

It has become a cliché in the world of automotive conferences that industry leaders peer into the future of mobility and claim, frowning, that young people are not interested in cars and SUVs anymore and positively despise them. That never made much sense, given the freedom and prestige accruing from owning a nice set of wheels. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, young people were suddenly an impoverished group who couldn’t for the first time in decades, actually afford a car. So they accepted the need to take the bus or the train knowing it was a necessity.    

But not only are millennials expressing a desire to buy automobiles, only 6% of non-car owners want an electric car, while 71% want one powered by the loathed internal combustion engine (ICE).

According to EY’s 2020 Mobility Consumer Index, millennials are expected to lead a car ownership boom in the next 6 months across the globe, representing 45% of all first-time car owners. The survey took place in 9 countries with more than 3,300 interviewed.

Nearly a 3rd of respondents who do not currently own a car say they plan to buy one in the next six months.

“71% of non-car owners currently seeking a new car are looking to buy a gasoline or diesel model, with just 6% looking to purchase a purely electric vehicle and 23% looking to buy a hybrid,” the report said.

John Simlett, author of the EY report, said the coronavirus has shaken up the car market to the point where policymakers will have to address points they thought were obsolete; how to accommodate a huge increase in cars on the roads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the