The changing face of car culture

For every article that states that Gen Zs are turning their backs on cars, there’s another article that suggests the data being used is flawed, and reports of Gen Zs steering away from driving have been greatly exaggerated. What we know for sure is, e-scooters, e-bikes, and ride-sharing all provide today's young people with options that weren’t available to earlier generations and offer a convenient and affordable alternative to owning and maintaining a car, especially for those living in urban areas or on college campuses. Against this backdrop, brands in the auto space know they have their work cut out for them. Here, we take a look at three ways brands are hoping to get Gen Zs in the driver's seat.


In yet another nod to Gen Z's love of all things nostalgic, it would seem that younger consumers have found joy in driving a stick shift. Autotrader has seen a 13% increase in page views for manual cars so far in 2023 compared to the same time last year. In fact, much like Gen Z's obsession with flip phones, young drivers are looking for a more connected and analog driving experience in an increasingly automated world, with a number of automakers like Mazda, Acura, and Mini recently becoming big backers of the manual transmission as demand increases.


To reach younger consumers, Cars.com- a site that connects car buyers and sellers with dealers- recently launched a refreshed brand campaign in a specific attempt to resonate with Gen Z. Running mostly on streaming and social media, three videos portray people buying a car during important life milestones, such as getting a promotion or starting a family. Chief Product Officer Matthew Crawford has said that the overall goal for Cars.com is to become “an ongoing resource that consumers will engage with as a vehicle owner over time, not just once.”


Gen Z is going electric. With most Gen Zs saying they are considering EVs as their next car purchase, this gives brands a chance to reinvent themselves with this generation. For instance, Subaru is connecting with a younger demographic by partnering with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, and has also been going into schools to foster kid’s interest in and appreciation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, to inspire the next generation of scientists and potential EV automakers.