by Lori Cunningham
Ford invited a number of experts to talk many different trends during their Go Forward with Ford event. One particular trend I found fascinating was the discussion about urbanization over suburbanization. Carol Coletta, one of the world’s 50 most important urban experts as cited by a leading European think tank, provided some insight.Remember hearing about the suburban crawl? Well, apparently, it is receding. Over recent years, young college graduates, aged 25-34, have steadily begun choosing the downtown city for their abodes. Cities offer more opportunity, variety, time convenience, and closer proximity to work. A study cited that 63% of young college graduates say they first choose the city they want to live in, then find a job. Young adults are 42% more likely than others to live within 3 mile radius of their work. This is a dramatic change.
Today’s Definition of Mobility
Yesterday, mobile meant getting around, today mobile means cellphone technology. Coletta believes mobile is more about accessibility.
Today’s young adults would give up owning a car over giving up their phone. Millennials, people aged anywhere from adolescence to 30, are a larger group than the baby boomers, but they are buying fewer cars than their predecessors. Fewer young people are getting their drivers licenses due to increasing driver training costs.
Changing the Way We Look at Car Ownership
With the increasing number of people moving to the city, having a car becomes more of a liability than a luxury. Finding a place to park your car near your home and when shopping becomes cumbersome. Public transportation provides many options for the city dweller, yet they still lack the conveniences of a car. For example, taking a subway to Target is pretty handy. But lugging back your treasures and carrying them through the stairs, crowded hallways and subways, and walk home can be tedious and tiring.
How about a college student? For the most part, everything a college student needs is conveniently located near the campus…all within walking distance. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a car for those trips to visit Mom and Dad?
ZipCar has the solution. ZipCar is a growing car-borrowing service where you rent a car just for the time you need it and return it when you’re done. It’s truly revolutionary in accommodating the need for short bursts of drive time. Ford thinks the ZipCar concept is brilliant and is, in fact, a major corporate partner in developing ZipCar’s reach. ZipCar is now on 250 college campuses and every available ZipCar is a Ford car.
Now you may be wondering why Ford, a company who sells cars, has invested so heavily in ZipCars. Ford is a very forward thinking company and they have been following the trend of urbanization for a number of years now. They know that college graduates are less likely to buy cars right away and in fact for many years. Nonetheless, they know that eventually, young graduates will grow older and moving to the suburbs is very possible. If their first experience of driving a Ford during college was a positive one, they are more likely to purchase a Ford when they buy a car.
Tying back to Carol Coletta’s comment about mobility equating to accessibility, it’s pretty remarkable how the mobile phone has opened more possibilities for each of us. The old way of doing things is changing and new models of using a car, communicating with others, and getting information instantly at your fingertips are emerging.
Speaking of emerging ways of doing things, be sure to read our forthcoming article on Unbelievable Car Features in Ford’s Future. Also see, Spinning Around Ford’s Test Track, for some of the fun we had during the press event.
*Ford paid my expenses for the flights and lodging. All opinions are my own.