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Here’s Who Owns Most of the Cars in America

It’s the classic movie ending.

The main character beats the bad guy or overcomes some awful problem and then hops in a car and takes off toward the setting sun. 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this country who can’t have that image because they don’t own a car.

A study by global comparison platform Finder found that 10% of American adults have no vehicle access and of those who do have access, 12% of them have to borrow from a friend or family member.

“Over the past few years, higher prices for new and used vehicles, limited availability, and higher loan interest rates have frustrated consumers,” said Laura Adams, personal finance expert at Finder

Boomers Most Like to Own a Vehicle

“Many are likely unable to afford a car and related expenses, including auto insurance, maintenance, and fuel, because they’re too financially pinched by inflation.” she added.

While 10% of American adults are a lot of consumers, Adams noted that some may live in cities where they walk or have easy access to public transportation. 

Cars were one element of the quarterly survey of U.S. consumer attitudes and trends on topics such as wealth, debt, savings, work satisfaction and overall confidence.

The survey was conducted between April 11 and 20, 2023 and comparisons are to surveys conducted between January 9 and February 17, 2023 and October 4 to October 19, 2022.

Boomers are the most likely to own a vehicle, while members of Generation Z are the least likely to have a set of wheels, indicating that younger consumers with more mobility have more potential to get by without owning a car. 

Millennials, on the other hand, are most likely to either lease or borrow a friend or family member’s vehicle.

“While the need to own a car depends on location, occupation, recreation, and family needs, remote work and ride-sharing services allow more Americans to skip buying a car and save money,” Adams said.

Lease vs. Own

Knowing whether to lease or buy a vehicle depends on the car you want and your desired lifestyle.

“Leasing can make sense if you prefer to drive a new model every few years and not be responsible for major repairs,” Adams said. “However, buying and using a used vehicle for as long as possible can be wise to save money in the long run.”

People who have cars are holding onto them for a longer period of time. 

A recent report by S&P Global Mobility found that the average age of cars and light trucks in the U.S. rose again this year to a new record of 12.5 years.

This was up by more than three months over 2022 and marked the sixth straight year of increase in the average vehicle age of the U.S. fleet.

The Finder study also found that 77% of respondents say they’re stressed about their current financial situation, down 5% who said the same in January.

And 85% of the respondents are concerned about the rising costs of household bills, down 3% from January.

On the plus side, Finder’s researcher revealed that the number of Americans planning a vacation in the next 12 months is up, with 65% of the January survey respondents saying they plan to travel compared with 60% back at the beginning of the year.

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