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Number of Carless Americans on the Rise

May 30, 2013

BANDON, Ore. ─ More and more American households are going without a car, CNW Research reported this month. Last year, 9.3 percent of households went without a car, up from 5.7 percent of households in 1991.

While the auto industry experienced some of its best years through the 1990s and early 2000s, the share of households with a car remained steady. That changed in 2007, when that share began to decrease before rising quickly through 2012.

“While the recession was in large part responsible for the latest spurt, the trend was already clear: A growing number of Americans felt they didn’t need or want a personal car,” CNW’s Art Spinella wrote.

Driving the trend are younger and older Americans. Spinella wrote that the youth market has other ways of communicating than driving to the mall to meet with friends, while older consumers are finding it increasingly unnecessary because of an expanding number of “over-55” communities that provide virtually all necessary services.

“One of the results of this shift in no-vehicle households is the share of new-car sales that are to businesses and government agencies,” Spinella noted. “As fewer consumers buy vehicles for their personal use, the commercial-fleet-government share takes on more importance to automakers.

“While the full impact of these trends are years away, we can see the formation of a future that includes more car-sharing, increased use of public transportation and diminishing status of owning a new vehicle. Again, this is years away ─ perhaps a decade ─ but the shift is clearly taking root.”

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