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What does Generation Y really drive?

July 21, 2011
Car makers have been pursuing young buyers for decades but seem to have more misses than hits.
           
Supposedly youth-oriented models like the Honda Element, which was a hit with middle-age dog owners and empty nesters; and the Pontiac Aztek, which almost nobody liked, serve as recent examples of misreading what young drivers want.
           
But a few car companies have found the formula and have dominated the youth market recently, according to a new study. The top three most popular brands for car buyers from 18 to 27 years old, or Generation Y, are Toyota’s Scion brand, Mitsubishi and Mazda, according to TrueCar.com, an auto industry research and forecasting company.
           
The survey looked at the purchases of more than 4 million car buyers from 2009 and 2010. Car makers pursue young shoppers in part because getting them represents an opportunity to develop early brand loyalty.
           
“Generation Y buyers are very important to automakers because they help set trends from popularizing social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to technologies such as the iPhone and iPod,” said TrueCar.com’s Jesse Toprak. “It’s also important for an automaker to get a young buyer into their vehicle from the beginning in hopes of continued loyalty to the brand.”
           
Said Kristen Andersson, an automotive analyst for TrueCar.com: “Generation Y buyers want vehicles that look distinct and can be tailored to their individual tastes. Buyers from this generation are also looking for vehicles that have the technology features they are accuustomed to built into the vehicle at an affordable price.”
           
The MSRPs of the models successful with young buyers range from $13,915 for the Toyota Yaris Sedan to $25,365 for the Volkswagen GLI.
 
Rank
Make/Model
% Buyers aged 18-27
1
Scion tC
37.4%
2
Mitsubishi Lancer
32.1%
3
Honda Civic Si
23.4%
4
Toyota Yaris Sedan
21.3%
5
Ford Focus Coupe
19.3%
6
Scion xD
19.1%
7
Volkswagen GLI
19.0%
8
Subaru Impreza
18.3%
9
Kia Forte
17.9%
10
Toyota Corolla
17.8%
11
Nissan Altima Coupe
17.6%
12
Nissan Versa Sedan
17.4%
13
Nissan Sentra
17.1%
14
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
16.7%
15
Volkswagen GTI
16.5%
16
Subaru Impreza Wagon
16.4%
16 tie
Mazda3 Sedan
16.4%
18
Honda Civic
16.1%
19
Toyota Yaris Hatchback
15.2%
20
Hyundai Elantra
14.9%
 

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