Cars are horrible for the environment and car infrastructure can have very negative impact on local economies so it’s nice to see enthusiasm for driving diminishing in younger generations. American teens are less likely to have a license and less likely to want to own a car than previous generations.
Does this mean the end of car culture in the States? Maybe, but for now all we do know is that their lower driving rates are already having an impact on energy policy in the states.
Growth in “vehicle-miles traveled” (VMT)—that key gauge of America’s love affair with the automobile that once reliably ratcheted up year after year—will slow dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says in its new Annual Energy Outlook. The EIA slashed its projected annual VMT growth rate to 0.9 percent, a drop of 25 percent compared to its forecast only a year ago.
The change is partly due to slower population growth, but also because of a generational shift confirmed by at least four studies in the past year. In the United States, young people are not only driving less than teens did a generation ago, they aren’t even getting licenses.
Put that demographic trend together with the dramatic increase in fuel economy expected in the years ahead, and U.S. energy consumption to fuel cars is expected to drop one-quarter to 12.1 quadrillion Btu by 2040.