April 16, 2012

Teens and Cars

Have teens and car culture broken up?

Shelby: If you had to pick between having a car or the internet, which would you choose?


“Personally, I think internet access.”

“I would honestly choose the internet.”

Shelby: In a recent study, nearly half of young drivers surveyed said they would rather have web access than a car. That is why car companies are scrambling to get your attention with the latest gadgets and coolest rides, like a life-size Hot Wheels Camaro, an all-electric Nissan Leaf, and the first flying car you could actually drive and fly. They are all at the New York International Auto Show, the largest in the country with more than a million visitors last week.

But where are the young people at this event? At the charging station.

“People would rather take off their thumbs than lose the internet.”

Shelby: That is not good news for the car industry. Just a few decades ago, teenagers were desperate to get their drivers licenses so they could hang at the local drive-in restaurants and movie theaters. Back then, it was all about the wheels.

What did cars represent?

“The American dream, high horse power, go fast, enjoy it.”

Shelby: These days, car companies have to compete with smartphones and costs that come with car ownership.

“I have to pay for my own gas, and gas is getting ridiculously expensive, and it sucks.”

Shelby: And some young drivers say lately, carmakers have been catering to older folks.

“Let’s start off with a Lincoln commercial. You watch those commercials. You think you have to be 40, 50 years old to buy one the way they advertise it.”

Shelby: The car industry is listening.

Just a wild guess, but this commercial probably isn’t for your grandmother.

So, the Kia commercial, what about it caught your eye?

“The dancing hamsters. The music was catchy, and the colorful car that caught my eye. It was funny.

Shelby: So, dancing hamsters work?


Shelby: What advice would you give car companies if they want to market to your generation?

“Make more exciting commercials, and hotter colors, brighter colors.”

Shelby: So, color is a big deal?

“Yeah. Color is a big deal.”

Shelby: General Motors agrees. Its new Chevy Spark lets buyers pick from colors like lemonade, techno pink and denim. Chevy’s new Sonic Boom includes a giant sound system.

Here at the car show, automakers aren’t just showing off their cars, they are also using new technology to appeal to young people. At this sonic boom station you can record music, then send it to your cell phone, Twitter or Facebook.

“I got a beat!”

Shelby: But will trying to become more hip really lure in those young buyers the car companies are after?

Does the beat station make you like this car more?

“Yeah. I’m really into music. When I go to college, I want to either study music or play football. So, I can be a music producer and play my beats through the car.

Shelby: So, it may be working. And fortunately for the auto industry, even in this age of the internet, there are still young people who can’t wait to leave behind the web and get behind the wheel.

“I’d pick the car.”

Shelby: You would pick the car? Why?

“Because I could go anywhere if I was bored, instead of a computer where I’d be sitting there and doing nothing. So, I’d pick a car and go somewhere.”

Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.


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