Consumer attitudes about the necessity of vehicle ownership are gradually changing, according to Cox Automotive's mobility study. Access to mobility is necessary but owning a vehicle is not, according to 39% of respondents, which represents a 4% increase over 2015 results.
The finding comes in the second part of Cox Automotive's deeper dive into mobility trends that looks at alternative ownership. Earlier this month, the company analyzed attitudes about autonomous vehicles.
For urban consumers, 57% indicate access to mobility is more important than vehicle ownership, a 13% increase since 2015. The cost of owning or leasing a vehicle also is perceived to be becoming too high by 48% of respondents. This means increasingly more consumers are prioritizing technology solutions that provide easy and more cost-effective mobility over traditional vehicle ownership.
"Private ownership still dominates the automotive landscape, but options like ride-hailing and subscription programs are increasingly popular with young urban dwellers," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader. "The trendline for these programs could drastically alter this industry over the next five to 10 years."
Today’s consumers continue to rely overwhelmingly on vehicle ownership as their primary mode of transportation and love the freedom (81%) and convenience (89%) associated with it. This, however, is not particularly true with younger cohorts, as 55% of Generation Z (respondents age 12 to 22) and 45% of millennial (23 to 36) feel transportation is important, but owning a vehicle is not. Thirty-four percent of Generation X (37 to 53) and 28% of Baby Boomers (54 to 72) feel the same.
Various business models such as ride-hailing and carsharing are gaining traction, as are new subscription or flexible lease options. Automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo and mobility companies, including Cox's own Flexdrive, are growing an ecosystem of fleet vehicles, where commercial owners hold the asset and charge consumers for usage.
“Car subscriptions are gaining traction among millennials, and it’s anyone’s game at this point,” said Joe George, president of Cox Automotive’s mobility solutions group. “Our clients are already shifting some of their focus to mobility with automakers and dealerships getting into subscriptions, as well as car-sharing and fleet management. Our strategy is to enable our clients to grow their business and stay relevant as the automotive industry evolves.”