Digital Kills the Automobile Star? Really?

Here is a story guaranteed to get the tech sorts into full “up with Internet” frenzy: The Internet’s rise is fuelling (ahem) the auto’s decline in importance among young people.

The internet has wreaked havoc on the music industry, airlines and media, but it just may be doing the same thing to automobiles.

It’s a rarely acknowledged transformational shift that’s been going on under the noses of marketers for as long as 15 years: The automobile, once a rite of passage for American youth, is becoming less relevant to a growing number of people under 30. And that could have broad implications for marketers in industries far beyond insurance, gasoline and retail.

The AdAge story goes on to postulate that the rise of the Internet, with its ease of communications, plus the difficulty of using same when in private transport, is diminishing the importance of autos to teens and young adults. I’m happy to have any younger readers report back here with their own views, but my guess is that the decline has at least as much to do with economic considerations, given rising youth unemployment, and higher gas/car/ insurance prices (in inflation-adjusted terms). That’s not to say that online stuff isn’t making physical presence less important, because it is, but economics matters at least as much, or more.