Whether it’s hot performance models or practical small crossovers, executives gathered here for the big auto show are staking their company’s future on a crucial target: Millennials.
The New York Auto Show is brimming this year with vehicles developed with younger buyers in mind. Even if that age group can’t afford the pricier cars yet, it’s all about where the market is headed.
“They are the biggest generation in terms of buying power,” said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com, the online car buying site. Here is what companies are doing to lure them:
- Toyota. The small FT-4X crossover concept unveiled at the show Wednesday is aimed at young urbanites who like camping and other outdoor pursuits. The spunky FT-4X’s design incorporated feedback from conversations with “outdoorsy Millennials in the Bay Area,” said Kevin Hunter, head of Toyota’s design studio in Newport Beach, Calif.
- Subaru. The seven-passenger Ascent SUV concept is aimed at making sure that Millennials don’t flee the brand when they start adding more kids to their growing families. Tom Doll, president of Subaru of America, said that was an oversight in past generations.
- Fiat Chrysler. In taking the wraps off its new 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRX Demon muscle car, Fiat Chrysler made sure that it paid homage to young performance enthusiasts. Rapper Wiz Khalifa was prominently featured. “Dodge has the youngest demographic of any brand in the industry and they (Millennials) are really gravitating toward those performance vehicles,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars.
The good news for automakers is that despite early worries about their interest in cars, Millennials are becoming buyers. As the most digitally connected generation ever, fears arose that Millennials might shun cars in favor of social media and smartphones. But they’ve come around.
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