Publication Detail

Californian Millennials Drive Smaller Cars: Estimating Vehicle Type Choice of Millennials


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Suggested Citation:
Berliner, Rosaria M. and Giovanni Circella (2017) Californian Millennials Drive Smaller Cars: Estimating Vehicle Type Choice of Millennials. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-17-52

More than 17.4 million vehicles were sold in the United States in 2015, breaking the previous record of 17.3 million vehicles sold in 2000. With cheaper gas and a stronger economy, consumers are crowding new and used car lots looking for a car to buy. In this study, the authors focus on the individuals who own the vehicles, and investigate how their socio-demographic characteristics, individual lifestyles, attitudes, and generational differences affect the type of vehicle they choose. The authors use data collected in California in Fall 2015 as part of a study of the mobility of millennials (18-34 years old) and middle-age adults (age 35-50), and focus on the subset of respondents that bought a car, either new or used, in the last six years. The authors estimate a multinomial logit model of vehicle type choice using six aggregated vehicle type categories: Compact/Small, Midsize, Full-size/Large, SUV, Luxury, and Luxury SUV. Consistent with expectations, as age increases the likelihood to own to own large or full-sized vehicles increases. Not surprisingly, the presence of children in the household increases the probability of owning SUVs and large vehicles. Further, the authors estimate the impact of individual attitudes and preferences on vehicle choices. Individuals who feel as though they are established in life (good career, happy with living conditions, etc.) are less likely own small or compact vehicles, confirming the importance of individual attitudes and personal tastes in affecting consumers’ mobility styles and vehicle choice.
Presented at Transportation Research Board 96th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 8-12, 2017