The automobile industry is important to the U.S. economy—so important that in 2009 the U.S. Treasury Department invested nearly $50 billion in General Motors Co. after it went bankrupt in a financial crisis that led to a recession.
That importance is changing as consumers buy new cars less often, and self-driving cars and ride-sharing services such as Lyft become more popular.
A high number of millennials, the largest-living generation, expect to change their car habits in the next 20 years, according to a poll by LendEDU, a marketplace for student loans.
The report found that 20 percent of car-owning millennials don’t believe cars will be necessary in 20 years. However, 79 percent believe cars will still be a necessity in 2037. When asked if a car is a necessity in today’s society, 93 percent said yes and nearly 7 percent said no.
A fair number of respondents (22 percent) said they didn’t plan to buy a new car in the next five years. Either the auto industry will slow down sooner than expected, or many people are satisfied with their current cars and aren’t afraid to rack up the miles.
The rise of ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lift also caused some people to rethink car ownership. The poll found that 16 percent of car-owning millennials are rethinking car ownership with the growth of ride-sharing services.
Self-driving cars played a bigger role in their view of car ownership. When asked, “If possible, would you give up manually driving a car if it meant that you could have a self-driving car?”—42 percent of car-owning millennials said they would. They’d still have a car—a self-driving one—but they wouldn’t be driving it as they do today.