In today's New York Times, an article highlights the effect that the current reccession, demographic shifts, and changes to the environment has had on domestic auto sales. Even taking into account the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program this has been a disastrous year for automakers.
Not only has the recession tightened the budgets of consumers, a demographic shift is occurring as well. Whether aging Baby boomers tired of a long commute, recent immigrants who feel comfortable in urban settings, or those from Generation X who want a change from the suburbs, migration patterns are shifting from the suburbs to urban areas.
That shift is translating to fewer Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), less time spent in the car, and according to this article fewer people attracted to the purchase of a car. What is worth noting is that by delaying their first car purchase, auto manufactures have a tougher time selling on emotional appeals later on.
Another key point worth noting is that the decision to become car free is more difficult without access to adequate public transportation. I would also include that the decision is also more difficult without an adequate bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
What do you think? Are you seeing changes in Bay Area? Do you think we are responding by building better bicycle infrastructure? Is this a great time to promote the idea of "Complete Streets" or what? Tell us what you think.
Is Happiness Still That New Car Smell?
New York Times, October 21, 2009