The conventional idea within much of the car-collecting community is that young people are not interested in cars. They don’t drive them, let alone hope someday to collect them.
But a study by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, which stages its annual trade show next week in Las Vegas, belies that wisdom. In fact, according to the SEMA Young Accessorizers Report, 58 percent of those aged 16-24 who accessorize their vehicles would rather give up their smart phones for a week than give up their vehicle for a week.
The survey also revealed that there are 24 million drivers in that age demographic and in 2017 they drove more than 155 billiion — yes, billion with a “B” — miles.
They also spent more than $7.2 billion — yes, again, with a “B” — modifying their vehicles in 2017. That $7 billion figure represents more than 16 percent of the $43 billion spent last year on aftermarket automotive products. And more than half plan to add accessories within the next year.
“Social life is very important to young people, and 4 out of 5 say that their car helps bring them closer to their friends,” SEMA reported.
Among other findings, the report found that of 38.4 million people aged 16-24 in the U.S., 12.2 million do not have a driver’s license. Only 27 percent of those age 16 have licenses, but among 24 year olds, 83 percent do possess a license.
Whether they have a license or not, 80 percent of all travel was done by personal car or truck. Among other means, 13 percent of miles were done by walking or on a bicycle, 6 percent via public transit, 1 percent by taxi, limo, Uber, Lyft, etc.
Of those who accessorize their vehicles, 51 percent of males said they install the parts themselves while only 24 percent of females do their own installation.
Primary modifications include wheels and tires, exterior body upgrades/changes, upgraded vehicle chemicals and changes to the vehicle’s interior.
“When thinking about their favorite modification or upgrade,” SEMA noted, “accessorizers were motivated by the desire to make their vehicles look and perform their best, while also adding comfort, entertainment and functionality.”
Of those who do accessorize their vehicles, one quarter are involved in a car-related group on social media.
SEMA said the study was based on responses from more than 7,000 people.