Millennials Willing to Outspend Boomers by 50% on Car Tech

Millennials are willing to spend more than 50 percent more for new technologies in automobiles than baby boomers, a J.D. Power survey found.

At an average of $3,703 a vehicle, millennials topped boomers at $2,416 and Generation X members at $3,007, the Westlake Village, California-based research firm said in a statement. The findings were presented Wednesday at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are set to become the largest U.S. consumer group, as they rebound from record student loan burdens and fallout from the worst recession since the Great Depression. They are the second-biggest generation among new-car buyers, accounting for 28 percent of sales this year, behind 37 percent for boomers, according to J.D. Power.

“The auto industry is standing on its head to keep technology up to consumers’ new standards” on the pace of innovation and updates, Kristin Kolodge, the firm’s executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface research, said in the statement. “Those who haven’t done so have seen negative feedback from consumers.”

Auto buyers in general are most interested in collision protection and don’t care as much about energy-efficiency technologies such as solar-glass roofs, Kolodge said. That may be because of low gasoline prices and improved fuel economy, she said.

The study also found that consumers had low preferences for Apple Inc.’s CarPlay and Google Inc.’s Android Auto applications, which integrate smartphones with cars. Owners of luxury vehicles tend to have Apple products, while there is a closer split between Apple and Android devices among buyers of non-luxury autos, Kolodge said.

J.D. Power said the online survey, conducted in this year’s first three months, included more than 5,300 people who had bought or leased a new vehicle in the past five years. The firm, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc., defines Gen Y as those born from 1977 through 1994, Gen X as 1965 to 1976 and baby boomers as 1946 to 1964.

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