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Sustainability is at the heart of Gen Z transport needs

Recent reports suggest that young people care deeply about sustainable transport and are spearheading an industry shift that focuses more on sustainability than style or status.  

Transport companies and car manufacturers will need to rethink the way they approach Gen Z audiences if they want to maintain a strong presence with younger consumers.

According to a recent report by Allision and Partners US, Gen Z do not view vehicles as measures of status or financial success. In fact, 56% of young people that were sampled said they regarded cars as ‘just a means of transport’, suggesting that Gen Z are prioritising shared experiences, sustainable transport, and convenient travel over aesthetic.

We’ve seen car sharing applications such as Uber and Lyft explode in popularity over the last five years or so, offering easy and cost-effective solutions for Gen Zers to get about without the need for personal car ownership. Uber recently announced a bunch of green initiatives such as all-electric taxi rides and zero carbon emission goals by 2030, which was no doubt in part a response to growing demand from young consumers to be environmentally responsible.

Other transport companies will need to follow suit, especially as fewer young people are interested in buying their own cars and vehicles than ever before. Allison and Partners stated that 70% of young people have yet to obtain a driver’s license and 30% said they’re not in a rush to get one. In addition, Gen Z and millennials made up 57% of all rideshares in 2017, and that number is only growing.

Convenience ridesharing apps are in and borrowing cash in order to own a Ferrari is out, at least with teenagers and young adults.

Why is all of this good for the environment?

It goes without saying, but growing interest in ride sharing apps means less vehicles on the road on a day-to-day basis, and less of us relying entirely on cars to get around. We’re now more likely to explore greener alternatives, such as on-demand scooters in places like Madrid, or take public transport – which cities like London are promising to be carbon neutral by 2050.

A shift away from personal vehicles also forces big brands to engage with the environmental issue in order to survive and maintain relevance. Forbes noted in 2019 that manufacturers are having to think outside the box and accept that far fewer young people will be buying cars throughout this decade.  Tesla is also one of the most well-regarded car companies with Gen Z due to its unique mesh of forward-thinking electric vehicles and unconventional business model. We like the idea of a new car that shakes up old diesel and petrol options. Change is good.

This means that car companies will have increased incentive to properly dive into electrical vehicle options in the coming years. We’ll no doubt be seeing more of them at cheaper prices as manufacturers attempt to appeal to a generation that’s passionate about sustainability while conscious of expenses.

We don’t have as much money as our parents, so we’ll want to be buying something reasonably priced that also doesn’t guzzle up resources, and that’s if we buy a car at all.

How bad is the pollution problem?

We probably shouldn’t all be buying our own vehicles anyway, as air pollution is the most pressing environmental risk to humans today, even more so than COVID-19.

Our editor Imogen recently wrote a piece that discussed this topic in detail, exploring the excessive use of cheap, pollutant-heavy cars in fast growing cities where public transport is underfunded. The World Health Organisation has pointed out that automobiles are the one of the biggest causes of carbon dioxide emissions globally, and the highest emitter of dangerous particulate matter that causes serious health risks.

Switching out our current vehicles for all electric solutions will be a challenge, especially in nations where it’s less financially viable to do so. Governments will need to invest in charging ports, revamp petrol stations to offer electric alternatives, and pump money into producing affordable cars that don’t emit dangerous levels of carbon dioxide if we want to see long-term and drastic changes. Other solutions are already being considered such as ‘carbon capturing’ which, while controversial, could help to keep our air pollution damage at a minimum.

The good news is Gen Z are hungry for these changes. We’re very willing to car share, invest in apps that offer convenient transport for us, and will back green and progressive companies that are trying to make commercial mainstream electric vehicles a reality.

As long as manufacturers and car producers stay tuned in to these new demands we could see big, sweeping change that emphasis green transport and sustainability over horsepower and flashy Lamborghini spoilers in the future. Right now, your best bet is to walk when you can, take a bus, or jump into an Uber.

Just don’t buy yourself a petrol run single-person car if you can help it.


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