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The Perfect Gen Y Car – A Used Car?

The horrific parade of cars “designed to meet the youthful needs of Generation Y” seems to have taken its proper course. I pray the trend is dead. (No, Dan, as VehicleVoice correspondent and AutoPacific president George Peterson found at a recent Dodge Caliber press event, cars targeted at GenY are alive and well. At least Dodge admitted they would not be embarrassed when the Caliber sells to older folks.)
I remember watching Trevor Creed, head of Chrysler Group design, unveil the Dodge Razor designed for “millenials” at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show. The typical Chrysler todo included boom boxes and kids on Razors, those small-wheeled scooters that pre-adolescents use for terrorizing shopping mall parking lots. “What are they thinking?” was my first thought. “Did Trevor get into a terrible Razor accident?”

2004 Civic.jpg

Used 2004 Civic Coupe – Perfect GenY Car

While I liked the vehicle, it was clearly one that had no relation to GenY whatsoever. How many youngsters have you seen driving 2 seat open top roadsters recently? More important, how many youngsters have you seen driving any new vehicle recently? Not many. The concept was perfect for a mid-life crisis, not an entry level Dodge. Fortunately for Dodge, this “GenY” car was halted at the concept stage. Others have not been so fortunate. While the PT Cruiser and Honda Element have been quite successful, the fact that they both missed their target demographic is a bit embarrassing for the product planners.
Recently we’ve seen a lot of attention being paid to B Class vehicles, such as the MINI. Many more vehicles will enter into this segment, pushed by manufacturers’ worries about fuel prices. There may be considerable upside to this segment, but let’s not get confused. These vehicles are not the answer to courting Generation Y either.
Generation Y cars have been around for years. It doesn’t take a string theorist to figure out that younger car buyers would rather have a nice used car than a stripped down econo-drum. In this age group, a new car just isn’t in the picture. The perfect Gen Y car is a used car with a warranty and roadside assistance.
Maybe, just maybe, developing a relationship with GenY buyers is the marketing department’s job. Rather than wasting millions on developing a GenY car, why not focus on a great CPO program? The progression into a brand can successfully start with a great used vehicle, and it might be best for product planners to leave this job to marketing.


  • Olivier| February 14, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    VERY good point about CPO programs.
    And while they’re at it, why not turn small cars from being econoboxes for 1st time buyers to being sensible (and cool) city cars for rational adults? Or is the Mini replica (with more handling capabilities than is needed on a 30 mph street) the only choice?
    Of course, this only shows how I misunderstand the American market.

  • david b| February 4, 2006 at 11:50 am

    What a great article. On the money. Home run!

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