The generation now moving into retirement played an important role in shaping how the auto industry designed cars for their needs, and they continue to influence trends in the marketplace. With much more to spend than their younger counterparts, Baby Boomers are still an important voice in the innovations included in new vehicles.
Consider the ways the Baby Boomers influenced and will continue to shape the auto industry:
The minivan and then the crossover: Lee Iacocca of Chrysler championed the minivan when he arrived at that company in 1978. He predicted that the minivan would become indispensable to families as baby boomers left behind their Mustangs and Corvettes to accommodate growing families. He also anticipated the boomer-driven SUV craze that grew in the 1990s when he purchased Jeep and brought it into the Chrysler fold.
Each of these influential shifts in the industry was made to accommodate the needs of boomers’ changing vehicle needs. Now, boomers are highly involved in their grandchildren’s lives and are pursuing an active retirement with a lot of travel. Crossovers are the new trend that boomers are influencing in the auto industry.
Accommodating changing physical needs: This generation is no longer wanting to spring up into a high seat of a Ford Bronco. Crossovers provide the right hip height for seniors that may struggle to climb up to a seat in an SUV. Heated leather seats provide relief for arthritis and features like a leather steering wheel can make it easier for older hands to grip the wheel without pain. Auto-powered tailgate lifts, lumbar seat support and other features also help seniors enjoy their cars.
In the future, retirees may have the ability to retain their transportation freedom longer than previous generations. The expectation of autonomous vehicles may be yet another trend driven by the boomer generation. They may be the first segment of the population highly motivated to obtain a driverless car because it helps them avoid the inconvenience of arranging for transportation to the grocery store, library and bank.
Even before fully autonomous cars hit the road, boomers are assisted by the artificial intelligence features that are already available. They have the funds to purchase packages like parking assist and blind spot warnings that are already helping seniors drive more safely.
Baby boomers continue to heavily influence trends in the auto industry, and it’s not just because of their numbers. It’s also because of their wallets. Given that this is the generation that rocked out in its youth to songs like “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Mustang Sally” and “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena,” it seems appropriate that they still love the auto industry, and the auto industry still loves them.