Lentz, president and COO of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., used the occasion of a speech before the 2011 Automotive News World Congress to make his prediction of 12.5 million in sales overall for new car manufacturers. “We believe our sales volume will grow at a slightly faster rate than the overall industry. And, we’re even more bullish about the long-term prognosis for the auto industry. In fact, we see a very bright future ahead.”
It’s not a future without challenges, he conceded in his remarks, because, in effect, young people today just don’t get the whole automotive culture. “We have to face the growing reality that today young people don’t seem to be as interested in cars as previous generations. When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get my license and buy my dream car - a red, 1971 Mercury Cougar XR-7 with a big V8 engine and 240 horses under the hood. Man, I loved that car.
“But these days, many young people care more about buying the latest smart phone or gaming console than getting their driver’s license. Many see cars as a source of cost, congestion and pollution… not freedom or adulthood… and that’s a serious problem that… together as an industry… we need to address. We need to find ways for young people to fall in love with cars the way most of us did in our youth. We have to provide an emotional connection so that cars are seen …not as utilitarian commodities…but vital to living a fulfilling life.”
Lentz’ also has to face another fact about Generation Y. According to a Deloitte study covered here at TorqueNew.com, Gen Y has a large amount of influence over their parents – slightly more than 61 percent say they directly influence their parents final purchase decision. That should further drive how manufacturers market their vehicles.
Lentz indirectly addressed that phenomenon. “Today, there are five different generations of consumers in the market with different needs and wants. The best advice I can give to our dealers is to be flexible and be prepared to do business in non-traditional ways, including beefing up the internet side of the business.”