Illustration for article titled Millennials Could Actually Save The U.S. Car Market: Study
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A new study reveals millennials might not be killing driving after all, an update on poor car sales in China and a warning about musical instrument cases from Yamaha. All of this and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

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1st Gear: But All Those Other Articles Told Me Millenials Hate Cars

If there’s one thing I hate about being a millennial, it’s the amount of market scrutiny we get, after which people like to form huge, broad opinions about us. Millennials, like other generations before and after, are not monolithic and I’m quite tired of being blamed for the death of the car ownership, car culture and driving.

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A new Benchmark Co. report picked up by Bloomberg suggests something different. It found that millennials, as we reach our family formation years, are getting our driver’s licenses at the highest rate in 40 years. From the story:

Licensed drivers in the U.S. reached a record 227.5 million in 2018, and the portion of the population that’s driving has risen every year since 2014, the report said.

Licensed drivers will grow by 12.5 million people in the U.S. over the next five years, Benchmark forecast. By 2025, there will likely be a record 245 million licensed drivers in the U.S. That could result in an extra 3 million vehicle sales a year.

For some, you’d get your license at 16. Millennials are merely postponing that, not omitting the driver’s license altogether. “... license rates begin to peak when people reach their mid-30s and millennials are no different,” Bloomberg reports. “They are having babies, buying SUVs and moving to the suburbs.”

Hey, maybe more millennials getting their licences will pull us out of this car sales slump we currently find ourselves in. And with what money, you ask? Oh, you know, the money we have left over after paying off our bills and student loan debt.

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2nd Gear: China Sales Still Not Stellar

At the beginning of 2019, car sales in China were reported down for the first time in 20 years. A year later, things are no better.

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Idle factories and closing dealerships are but a few of the results of the still-slow Chinese auto market after “decades of blistering growth,” reports the Wall Street Journal. From the story:

New data on Monday showed auto sales in China fell for a second straight year in 2019. Last year, 25.8 million vehicles were sold, an 8.2% decline from 2018, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Auto industry executives say this year will be tough again, although some expect a rebound later in 2020.

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The outlet reports General Motors “posted its biggest-ever China sales drop last year” and Ford sales have similarly tanked.

In part, the sluggish sales can be blamed on a change in the tax rebates that aided car sales, but China’s trade tensions with the United States and its own economic slowdown are also culprits as well. Will a rebound happen later this year? My bet is on another recession more than anything else.

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3rd Gear: Yamaha Has Thoughts About The Whole Ghosn Escape

The original headline I had for this gear was “Yamaha: ‘Please Don’t Pull A Carlos Ghosn And Climb Into Instrument Cases’” but that didn’t exactly fit. It’s the gist of this gear, though.

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After we learned Carlos Ghosn escaped from Japan by hiding in a big, musical instrument case, motorcycle and musical instrument producer Yamaha took it upon itself to warn the public it isn’t safe to climb into such things, apparently apropos of nothing.

The company, according to Reuters, said, “We won’t mention the reason, but there have been many tweets about climbing inside large musical instrument cases. A warning after any unfortunate accident would be too late, so we ask everyone not to try it.”

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From the rest of the story:

Yamaha, which makes instruments and equipment ranging from pianos and double basses to drums and heavy duty speakers, thanked people in second tweet for liking its first post, which was retweeted more than 50,000 times. It also reminded followers again that instrument cases are designed for instruments and not people.

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Can confirm, I was once shut in my mother’s guzheng case by an older cousin when I was little. It was scary.

4th Gear: Genesis

I’ve had my eye on Genesis ever since I drove the very nice and athletic G70. Genesis is Hyundai’s take on a sporty and more luxurious brand, and the cars themselves are quite nice. They are quality, quiet and fun when they need to be. What’s next for Genesis?

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The brand’s plan is a “3+2+1 strategy” that will see a lineup of three sedans, two crossovers and one electric car by the end of 2021, according to Automotive News in a chat with the global brand boss, William Lee. The hope here is that sales will follow the introductions of the new cars.

Per Automotive News:

Lee’s game plan envisions a 30 percent surge in U.S. sales in 2020 and an even bigger increase in 2021. This year, he says, global sales will exceed 100,000 for the first time. They are forecast to climb to 116,000 from a target of less than 90,000 in 2019.

The North American market accounts for about 30 percent of sales, while the home market of South Korea contributes the remaining 70 percent.

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Currently, the Genesis lineup consists of the G90 (sedan), G80 (sedan) and G70 (sedan). The GV80 SUV is basically here and the smaller GV70 will follow. Lee predicts “the GV70 will be the brand’s top-selling nameplate” by 2021. There’s no information or name for the upcoming EV just yet.

Looking further into the future, Lee dangled the possibility of a sports line for the Genesis brand, something akin to the N series of sporty cars at its Hyundai mass-market sibling brand.

“Eventually we need it, but it is too early,” Lee said. “We are much more focused on the next two years as a strong foundation for further, continuous growth.”

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I support all of this! Hyundai and Genesis make good cars that are nice to drive and look at. Here’s to hoping it all works out for the company—assuming, of course, there’s a world left by 2021!!!!

5th Gear: Ford And Vietnam

Amid sales slumps, Ford is still attempting to boost production capacity. It announced today that it’s investing $82 millionin order to expand its plant in Hanoi, Vietnam, according to Reuters:

Ford Vietnam, established in 1995, said the expanded factory would boost the U.S. automaker’s annual capacity in Vietnam to 40,000 vehicles from current volume of 14,000 units per year.

The company reported it sold 32,175 cars in 2019, up 31% from a year earlier.

The construction will expand the facility across an additional 60,000 square meters of land, bringing the total area to 226,000 square meters.

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The investment will go into effect starting this year and happen over the course of two years in two stages. Good for you, Ford.

Reverse: RIP John Dodge

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Neutral: Did You Get Your License As Soon As You Turned 16?

Or whenever was the earliest for you in your state. Or did you wait? Any specific reason for waiting?

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.

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