the evolving nature of vehicle ownership

“Car ownership is dead! The future is shared!”

“No more need for new cars sitting in dealership showrooms with bows on…”

We regularly see articles expressing this sentiment, particularly in the context of Gen Z, but what does the data tell us? Our Consumer Automotive research explores attitudes towards vehicle ownership, and how they vary by generation… read on to find out more.

Dreaming Of Car Ownership

Across the board, around one in five Australians intend to purchase a new vehicle in the next 12 months. While they may not in reality carry through on this intention, it talks to their level of engagement with the idea. As can be seen below, this is consistent across Gen Z, Gen Y and Gen X, with Boomers the only ones less likely to be planning for this type of investment.

While younger Australians are clearly not walking away from vehicle ownership, we do see some differences in the types of vehicle they are considering. Budget drives behaviour, with Gen Z much more likely to be considering used vehicles. This is most likely due to their current spending power, with no other significant differences when it comes to brand, vehicle type, fuel type, etc. Down the track, we’ve got no reason to believe they won’t be making their way onto dealership forecourts (or e-commerce platforms if that’s where new car buying ends up).

My Car Defines Me

One area where younger Australians are clearly different however is in how they look at their vehicle. More than half of Gen Z and Gen Y agree that they’re looking for a vehicle that ‘speaks to their personality’. Their vehicle is an expression of their individuality.

This holds true in terms of the vehicle they choose, but also the accessories they’ve purchased over the past 12 months. Close to half of Gen Z have purchased vehicle cleaning & care products, almost one in three have bought in-car accessories such as seat covers or floor mats, more than a quarter have purchased in-car technology such as head units, speakers, or GPS, and around one in six have purchased external accessories, which could include roof racks, bull bars, or exhausts.

In each case, Gen Z are more likely than any other segment to have made these purchases, demonstrating the extent to which they are personalising the vehicle to their unique wants and needs.

A More Considered Mobility Mix

The key factor to consider though is that this is only one of the many forms of mobility being used by younger Australians. If we look ahead 12 months, this group almost universally expects to have access to a private vehicle, but more than half also expect to be using public transport, ride hailing services such as Uber or Lyft, and micro-mobility solutions (e.g. e-bikes, e-scooters) as they make their way from home to work to play.

They are clearly comfortable leaving that vehicle parked in a driveway or on the street until the moment it’s needed, making decisions on a trip by trip basis as to what’s the most suitable option.

Based on this, Australians (including Gen Z) clearly still value vehicle ownership. With that said, private vehicles are just one part of an increasingly complex mobility mix, particularly for younger people. Over time this may push consumers to solely use MaaS solutions, but it doesn’t feel like that day is here yet.

For more information about our automotive research, you can browse our automotive blogreach out to our automotive experts, or access our latest automotive research reports.