WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Gen Y consumers are now accounting for a larger percentage of U.S. new-vehicle retail sales than their older Gen X counterparts, according to an analysis by J.D. Power.

Year to date in 2014, Gen Y (born 1977-1994) has accounted for 26% of new-vehicle retail sales, putting sales to that generational group ahead of those to Gen X (born 1965-1976) for the first time. Gen X buyers purchased 24% of new-vehicles in the same period, according to data collected by the Power Information Network (PIN) from J.D. Power. 

Boomers (born 1946-1964) are still the largest group of buyers of new vehicles, accounting for 38% of new vehicles sold during the first half of the year.

In 2013, Boomers accounted for 39% of new-vehicle retail sales, followed by Gen X at 24% and Gen Y at 23%.

Gen Y sales volume is on pace to grow 16% for the full year 2014, compared with 2013, while Gen X sales volumes are expected to increase 6% during this time frame.

“As Gen Y consumers enter new life stages, earn higher incomes and grow their families, their ability and desire to acquire new vehicles is increasing,” said Thomas King, vice president of PIN. “As new-vehicle demand among Gen Y consumers increases, it will be important for automakers to respond to the needs of these consumers, not only in terms of the vehicle design, but also the marketing, sales and service experience.”

PIN data shows that Gen Y customers tend to favor smaller vehicles, with compact/small vehicle segments accounting for nearly half of all Gen Y purchases. Compact car is the most popular segment for Gen Y, with 20% of every vehicle sold to the group coming from this segment. In contrast, Gen X favors midsize vehicles. For Gen X, compact SUV is the most popular segment, accounting for 15% of sales to this generation.