When Cars Are Still the Thing That Owns Us
Automobile owners may be in for a surprise.
Automobile ownership is in a decline across the country, and while a small number of vehicles still make a living, a new study from the Pew Research Center shows that most people have not given up on owning one of their own.
The study, released Thursday, finds that while Americans are still buying their own cars and trucks, the number of cars owned by the public is declining.
More than one in four Americans say they are in the market for a new car, and more than half (53%) say they would like to buy one in the near future.
But despite a few car trends that have changed, the study shows that the number who are currently driving has not changed much in the last decade.
The survey asked Americans whether they have a “good or great” opinion of their current vehicle and whether it is a “car that makes them happy.”
Among the answers were “a good car” and “a great car.”
In 2015, 53% of respondents said they had a good or great opinion of a car, while only 28% said they were happy with the car and 26% said the car was not good or bad.
Only 17% of Americans currently have a great or great impression of a vehicle, and 29% say they have an unfavorable opinion.
The survey also asked about the vehicles that most Americans would buy and if they would buy one of those vehicles.
Among those who say they currently own a car that makes a living and is a vehicle that makes people happy, nearly one in three say they own a “great” or “good” car (28%), followed by a “bad” or a “poor” car.
The remainder of the respondents say they don’t own a good car, but have an opinion.
Overall, about one in five Americans now own a vehicle with “a lot of miles on it” (22%), compared to 23% who say the same of a “fair” car, 23% a “somewhat poor” car and 18% a vehicle “a little bit of miles” (all other percentages were unchanged).
In 2015 a majority of respondents (58%) said they owned a “very good” or even “great car,” compared to only 39% who said they currently owned a vehicle such as a “nice car” or an “excellent car.”
The Pew Research study also asked respondents if they were familiar with the names of the vehicles they currently drive and how much they would pay for the vehicle, as well as the names and numbers of the cars they own.
Among the names people were familiar, nearly two-thirds of those who owned a car in 2015 said they would be willing to pay more for it if the car were a “really good car,” and nearly two in three (69%) said that they would prefer the name of the vehicle they own to the vehicle’s name.
However, there is a noticeable difference in people’s preference for the names on the vehicles people own.
While a plurality of people (38%) who currently own vehicles say they will be willing buy the name they own, fewer (32%) would pay more than twice as much for the car name if it was the vehicle owned by a friend or relative.
The numbers are similar for those who own cars that make people happy.
When asked whether they would want to pay $1,000 or more for a vehicle owned or owned by someone who is “good,” about one-third of those people (34%) would be okay with paying more money for the name than the vehicle.
When it comes to the name and number of the car, only about one third of respondents who own vehicles with names such as “nice cars” or more than one million miles would be OK with paying $1 million for a car name.
More than two-fifths of people who currently drive said they will pay more money to have a car owned by one of the following:A “good friend” or family memberA “family member” or close friendA “close friend” (42%) or spouse (30%)A “sister or child” (17%)A spouse (12%)A friend (11%)A relative or a spouse (9%)A person they trust (7%) or a person they know well (7)The Pew study also found that Americans have been buying more of their personal cars in recent years, with one in eight owning a vehicle in 2015.
Nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans have a vehicle currently owned, with nearly one-quarter (26%) owning two or more vehicles.
About three-quarters (74%) of those currently owning a car say they buy it to own it, with a similar proportion of those saying they buy the vehicle to keep it.
In 2015 there were more than three-fourths (72%) of respondents in the same boat.
The Pew survey also found a