We hear almost daily that millennials are abandoning their cars and moving to the central city. They walk, take Uber, or take rapid transit. If they need a car they rent one. Really…
I’m not so sure. What does car ownership mean, in the end. Does it mean status, or does it mean freedom. I vote for door number two.
In this article, posted on parknews.biz, we are told that in spite of a dearth of parking space, residents of large Chinese cities are buying cars like hot cakes and then fighting over the places to park them. The author, a Chinese citizen, says that the reason is status. People want others to see them in sitting in their cars, even though they can get where they are going cheaper and faster on the metro.
I beg to differ.
I think that automobiles offer the Chinese something they have little of. Freedom. When they are in their car, they are their own boss. For that few minutes they set their own destiny. They can go where they wish, when they wish, and as fast as they wish (traffic allowing).
We know this freedom, and take it for granted. I am not certain the Chinese do.
If you drill down through the demographics, you will find that even though it ‘appears’ that central cities are the destination of the young, automobile purchases are strong. The numbers in the US have been hovering around 7.5-8 million per year (Except for during the recession) for the past decade and are expected to double by 2020. (Aging car fleet).
There are a heck of a lot of people who want to drive. We want to feel that we can go and do when and where we want. We aren’t restricted by timetables and rail lines.
I think the Chinese are getting a taste of that, too. And their auto sales, no matter how difficult it is to park there, show it. Don’t see your garage just yet.