In years past, Americans with more disposable income bought luxury cars that offered more horsepower, softer seats, and increased passenger space. But that’s not necessarily what the next generation will want in its high-end vehicles. How will Generation Y’s desires differ from those of their parents?
Standard safety features. Luxury carmakers have recently provided their customers with advanced vehicle safety features, including blind spot sensors, auto brakes, and drowsy driver alert systems. But the next generation will demand that all of these automotive “extras” be offered as standard equipment on any high-end vehicle. This is nothing new; the same phenomenon occurred with such technological advancements as air bags, anti-lock brakes, and backup cameras, all of which were introduced in luxury vehicles before they entered the mainstream auto market. There’s another nice perk about such safety features: they lower car insurance rates.
Fuel efficiency. Not surprisingly, today’s young adults are more environmentally-conscious and less tolerant of gas-wasting vehicles. That’s why America is already seeing hybrid and plug-in technology migrating from tiny compact cars to spacious luxury models. In addition, next-generation high-end vehicles will be lightweight, aerodynamic, and built so that their engines maximize the efficiency of any gasoline they do use.
Cockpit technology. That’s the industry term for “interior buzzers and whistles.” If the next generation is going to shell out substantial scratch for a vehicle, it had better be equipped with more than just a cool stereo and plenty of cup holders. Specifically, tomorrow’s luxury car drivers will crave technology which permits hands-free cell phone calls, voice-to-text mobile messaging, and connectivity for digital music devices. Furthermore, carmakers will have to walk a tightrope between the creature comforts that car buyers want and the safety regulations that legislators demand.
Apps, apps, and more apps. Generation Y is well-immersed in the world of computerized applications, and they’ll expect nothing less from their high-end vehicles. Garmins and OnStar won’t be enough to satisfy these buyers; instead, they’ll yearn for apps which spot traffic delays in real time, find open parking spots, and even arrange for car-sharing with other drivers. In short, if tomorrow’s luxury car owners desire something, there had better be an app for that.
Keeping up with the times. It’s difficult to predict what tomorrow’s technological advances in mainstream society will be. But today’s young adults embrace new technology with open arms; so whatever the next latest and greatest thing is, they’ll want it in their automobile. This presents a daunting challenge for carmakers, since automotive technology cycles are generally longer than consumer technology cycles (as in years vs. months or even weeks). The car manufacturer who can incorporate new technologies into cars the fastest will have a distinct advantage over its competitors.
One thing is for certain: when the next generation purchases a vehicle at a higher price point, it won’t resemble your grandfather’s luxury car.