Car Capabilities: A Millennial’s Expectation

The Millennial Mind-Set

Millennials, also known as generation Y, are defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1996. They are currently aged between 23 and 38 and make up 12% of all current car buyers in Europe*.

Having grown up in the era of digitalisation, millennials have no problem embracing new technology and social media. The way that they have adopted to change and the way that they actively seek information has also shifted the way millennials purchase. And when it comes to buying cars, the process millennials follow and the priorities they place on the capabilities of a car is in fact changing the automotive industry.

Here we discover exactly what a hyper connected millennial’s expectations are when looking for a new car.  

What do millennial drivers expect?

Being the ‘digital generation’, millennials tend to do their research, if not purchase, online. However, millennials are taking a longer time to get better informed on their next car purchase, meaning they are considering a lot more options when it comes to purchasing a new car. Different to the previous ‘Gen X’ era, millennials even allow recommendations from friends and family to play an important role before making a purchase.

With 2020 predicted to be the point at which 40% of new car buyers will be millennials (1), we breakdown the expectations of a millennial when it comes to car capabilities.


One thing is certain, every millennial is hyper connected to various devices and communities as part of their everyday world. They expect to be up to date in a single click, no matter where they are – inside the car is no exception.

Millennials are demanding cars that are stylish and practical, complete with adequate tech features to ensure they stay connected while on the move. In fact, 1 in 3 millennials prioritise connectivity, sound and infotainment when buying a new car (1).

Smart Phone Connectivity

For millennials in particular, smartphones and cars are a real dream team.

Connecting your gadgets, smartphones and smart watches to your digital bubble is already an everyday experience for many; connecting these gadgets to your cars infotainment system is the next step in making a millennials day run smoother.

Get real-time updates in traffic, sure! But when you can now tell you device where you need to be, for it to automatically calculate then integrate with your Alexa and in-car connectivity, so that you are alerted to the best time to leave and direction to take, that’s a millennial’s expectation only a tech-advanced car can deliver.

Pre-heat your driving environment to your desired comfort without even leaving the house, get advice on the best local restaurants, or help remembering exactly where you parked the car, all via an in-car app.

Seamless connectivity with your phone and in-car app is the reality and an expectation in a millennial’s hyper-connected world.


Tech capability doesn’t stop there. Innovative in-car capabilities must carry through the whole of the car to truly impress. Car manufacturers are taking note, continually release new gadgets and gizmos to add not only style and functionality to your drive, but comfort and luxury to a millennial’s journey.

Auto-Function Headlights

Adaptable LED headlights will automatically adjust to real world conditions, illuminating various parts of the road to enhance the beam’s reach, as well as automatically adjusting to reduce glare for oncoming traffic - all without a single human intervention.

Gesture Control

Open your sunroof with a wave of your hand, turn up your favourite song, or answer a call, without the press of a button. Gesture control allows you to feel at one with the future of in-car technology, through this ingenious motion recognition technology.

Fuel Efficiency

An alternative source of fuel is now a top purchasing consideration for millennials (3). Electric vehicles (EVs) and their plug-in hybrid options have been on the rise across UK’s roads in the past few years, with over 40,000 sold in the first quarter of 2019 (1).  And it seems it is the millennial generation that need less convincing when it comes to going electric.


Millennials are keen for convenience. Having grown up in a time when convenience is king, via tech digitalisation, or when interacting with brands online, simplification and convenience is a consistent expectation.

Fuss-Free After Care

Millennials are in fact spoilt for choice when it comes to purchasing from competing brands and companies in today’s world. To really stand out, car brands need to offer added value customer service, and clarify and straight forward responses to servicing and repairs is a big tick for busy millennials. Various car brands offer full cover care plans to handle every car need, from servicing to road side assistance.

All-Inclusive Rental

In fact, a convenient all-inclusive car package is likely to appeal to a wide range of drivers, with 49% of UK consumers who own or lease a car liking the idea of combining car finance, insurance and vehicle tax into one monthly payment (4).

However, this perk is most popular amongst younger consumers, with 73% of 18-24-year-olds and 63% of 25-34-year-olds agreeing with the statement. This is likely to be due to younger audiences being more budget-conscious and therefore receptive to a transparent upfront cost per month.


It is often said that technology, phones in particular, is driving millennials to distraction. With almost 4 in 10 millennial drivers admitting to using their smartphone at the wheel, counteracting these dangerous habits with safety measures, is a priority for many drivers.

24% of UK adults that plan to or are likely to buy a car in the next three years would be interested in a lane change assistance warning feature.

48% of UK adults that plan to or are likely to buy a car in the next three years would be interested in brake assistance/collision avoidance features (5)

There are also plans to fit every new car with speed limiters: one of the many safety features that will be mandatory in new vehicles from 2022 according to The Vehicle Certification Agency. Others include automated emergency braking (ABS) to avoid or limit the effects of a collision, as well as electronic data recorders. 


Still, above all else, style is the most important criteria for buying a car for millennials.  

For 40% of current car buyers between 25 and 37, the exterior is the main reasons for purchasing a vehicle (1). Likewise, a third of under 30s consider their car to be an expression of their personality and individual style.

The changing mind-sets of millennials is contributing to the changing face of car industry – its technology, safety requirements and fuss-free finance. It will be interesting to see how the car industry continues to evolve to keep pace with the expectations of such tech-savvy, adaptive millennials.


Research source references:

(1) Market Research: SEAT 2019

(2) Brandwatch

(3) Economist Group

(4) Mintel’s Report Car Finance – UK, June 2018

(5) Car Purchasing Process – UK, March 2019


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