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Big 3 attracts younger drivers

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DETROIT – New sales numbers and reports reveal Detroit's Big 3 automakers are attracting new attention these days from a younger audience.

One theory is that young people may be drawn to American cars because they perceive their parents' imports as stale or obsolete.

"Even young teenagers are increasingly more interested in a Detroit product," said Art Spinella, president of Oregon-based CNW Research, which conducts marketing research on the auto industry. "We have seen a steady increase in the number of kids looking at Chevy, Ford and, to some degree, Chrysler products."

In particular, some domestic brands are attracting a growing number of younger drivers in south Florida, an area where the foreign market dominates. The top five models in the Miami market include: 1.Toyota Corolla 2.Toyota Camry 3. Honda Accord 4. Hyundai Sonata 5. Honda Civic. But that may be changing. 

"The Big 3 sort of missed a generation because they didn't have the products people wanted at one point, that's how Toyota and Honda got a foot-hole. So now this new generation comes along and it gives the Big 3 a fresh start with a new population," said Michelle Krebs, editor-in-chief of AutoOberserver.com.

Why now?

Marc Cannon, senior vice president of Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, attributes the interest to youthful styling on Ford and GM models, very competitive pricing and, especially, new technological amenities, like hands-free, voice-activated use of a cellphone and iPod.

"The kids love this technology stuff and the domestics have found a niche with technology and coming up with interesting styles," Cannon said. "The Japanese aren't there yet."