Mil­len­ni­als hit­ting road at fast pace

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

It turns out mil­len­ni­als don’t hate driv­ing, af­ter all.

As the gen­er­a­tion born be­tween 1981 and 1996 be­gins to reach their fam­ily for­ma­tion years, they are get­ting li­censed to drive at the high­est rate in 40 years, an an­a­lyst at Bench­mark Co. said in a re­port Mon­day.

Li­censed driv­ers in the U.S. reached a record 227.5 mil­lion in 2018, and the por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion that’s driv­ing has risen ev­ery year since 2014, the re­port said.

That’s good news for au­tomak­ers that have fret­ted over young Amer­i­cans spurn­ing the right-of­pas­sage of get­ting a driver’s li­cense at age 16. Mil­len­ni­als have sim­ply de­layed that step, but are now be­gin­ning to get them in num­bers equal to or higher than their car-lov­ing baby boomer par­ents. At 84 mil­lion strong, they now out­num­ber boomers.

“The im­pact on the auto sec­tor from the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion could be as great as the im­pres­sion the baby boomers had on the in­dus­try in the 1980s,” Mike Ward, Bench­mark’s auto an­a­lyst, wrote in the re­port. “Over the last five years, there were 15.4 mil­lion new driv­ers in the U.S., the big­gest com­pa­ra­ble in­crease since the 1974-78 pe­riod.”

The first mil­len­ni­als reached 35 in 2016, toward the be­gin­ning of the auto in­dus­try’s record five con­sec­u­tive years of at least 17 mil­lion U.S. ve­hi­cle sales.

By 2025, there will likely be a record 245 mil­lion li­censed driv­ers in the U.S., Bench­mark fore­cast. That could re­sult in an ex­tra 3 mil­lion ve­hi­cle sales a year.

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