The modern apartment blocks and converted warehouses that look across the East River from Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, are a sign of the New York district’s gentrification. The steady stream of fashionably retrolooking bicycles along Kent Avenue’s bike lanes testifies to how the area’s young, arty population largely move about without private cars.
The concern for US carmakers is whether Williamsburg’s young people foreshadow a general decline in car use also suggested by a reduction in the number of teenagers obtaining driving licences.
“There’s an attitudinal shift that’s happening,” says Sheryl Connelly, a futurologist at Ford Motor, the US’s second-biggest carmaker by sales.
The latest generation of young adults has more alternatives to the car, Ms Connelly suggests. Cities such as Portland, Oregon, have successfully encouraged far greater bike use, while public transport is far better in some places than 30 years ago.
“The car doesn’t hold the same imagery that it did in the Sixties or Seventies,” she says.
Ford has sought to counteract the apparent disillusionment by agreeing to supply Ford cars for the college campus sites of Zipcar, the car-sharing service. The company hopes students will grow used to its cars and, when they eventually buy for themselves, be more inclined to buy Ford.
Read the rest of this article from the Financial Times: Young people shift away from car ownership – FT
And Ford is not the only auto manufacturer that sees a future in sharing, according to this article: US Big Three look to auto alternatives – FT