As a teenager, there were exactly two things on my mind: girls and cars. I probably should have made room for homework and committed myself harder to a part-time job, but those things were just obstacles in the way of getting girls and cars.
I had a job only so I could save up for a car. Then once I bought it, I kept the job only to pay for accessories for the car.
That’s just the way I was, and the way most other guys in my high school were, too. Car culture was embedded in us. Cars were a symbol of freedom and independence, even an extension of our very personalities.
A funny thing is happening, though, to teens of today. Symbols of freedom and independence are no longer being driven – they’re being carried. Emotion is being squeezed out of cars, and the juice is dripping into Blackberries and Palm Pilots.
Then there’s a 22-year-old guy who spends his money on iPods, laptops, and video games, much to the dismay of his truck-obsessed father.
Teens and kids today just don’t have the same priorities I did. Heck, 10 years ago I was 22, and the biggest love of my life was my pickup. And I was married! Teens just don’t care about muscle, horsepower, or 7-inch lift kits. They want practicality and reliability. But where’s the fun in that?
Automakers are trying to reach young people with vehicles such as the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube, and Ford Fiesta. Nissan may have the best shot, showing they understand the market by not calling the Cube a car, but a “mobile device.” This move could be quite brilliant. But while teens might appreciate the effort, there’s still the challenge of getting them to part with $15,000.
That’ll buy a lot of iPhone apps.
Will America’s car culture die off as today’s young people grow up?