Millennials and Generation Z care more about the environment than any other generation in history. There are a number of reasons for this, mainly the fact that the world’s youngest generations were raised in a world where global warming was a term very much on everyone’s minds. Scientist have known for a long time about the damages of human behavior on the environment, but the phenomenon became a part of pop-culture starting in the early 2000s with films like “An Inconvenient Truth” and movements held around the world to raise awareness about the dangers of fossil fuels and the necessity of people taking steps to stop global warming.
Some, however, are quick to point out that although Millennials report that they care more about the environment, the generation has been slow to put their money where their mouth is, especially in important ways like with buying electric cars.
In some instances, no doubt, there is some virtue signaling going on here with Millennials making themselves feel good by saying they care about the environment but then, when given the chance to make a material impact for the good, they turn around and buy a gas-guzzling SUV rather than an electric or, at least, a hybrid. But this is only true at the margins. In most instances the reasons Millennials, and even more so members of Gen Z, aren’t buying more electric cars is because they cannot afford them.
For over a decade since electric cars really came back into vogue with Tesla, they have remained well out of reach of Millennials. The Tesla Model S, for instance MSRPs at around $75,000. This is not a criticism on Tesla, the company is doing good things, it’s just the nature of the beast. When new technologies are first released to the public they always come in at a higher-than-inevitable price-point. That is why computers, cellphones, fax machines, you name it, were all initially adapted by the rich before anyone else—they were the only ones who could afford it! But, as more of these products sell, the companies who make the products optimize their manufacturing processes and with better manufacturing comes cheaper development and with cheaper development comes cheaper prices and with cheaper prices comes a more diverse customer base—hence the wide adoption of a product that was once available only to the rich. This same phenomenon is currently happening in the world of electric cars.
The cost gap between electric models and gas models is beginning to shrink. Not only that, but younger demographics are becoming more and more aware of the economic benefits of owning electric vehicles. One survey showed 65% of Gen Z consumers said that charging an electric car costs less than fueling a gas car. Many young people now realize that the benefits of buying electric now include not only helping the environment but may also save you money which, for many cost-sensitive buyers, may be the key to the future of electric car’s success.