Millennials Hit the Brakes on an Automotive Rite of Passage
Life + Money

Millennials Hit the Brakes on an Automotive Rite of Passage

Universal Pictures

Saving up to purchase your first vehicle used to be a rite of passage for teenagers and young adults, but fewer than four in 10 Millennial drivers now contribute financially to the purchase of their own car.

That’s down from 65 percent of Baby Boomers and 53 percent of Gen Xers, according to a new report from CarGurus.

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Since Millennials aren’t purchasing their own vehicles, they’re less likely to have a say in what kind of car they get, and more likely to receive a hand-me-down set of wheels than Baby Boomers were. More than a third of Millennials receive a car because they need it to get to school, work or other activities, twice the rate of Baby Boomers.

The shift comes as fewer Millennials are driving in general, and car ownership has lost its luster as a status symbol. “Given the rise of autonomous vehicles, ride sharing, and sweeping urbanization, it will be interesting to see if future generations show the same trend in parents controlling the first car purchase, or if we’ll see some drop-off in dependents needing a car at a younger age.”

Some aspects of first-time car ownership haven’t changed. More than 80 percent of all first cars were either purchased or received used, and more than half of drivers got their first cars between the ages of 16 and 18.