Houston Chronicle

Millennial­s hitting road at fast pace


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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