Thursday, the Portland International Auto Show opens for its four-day run over the weekend. I have written at great length about Vancouver USA and her abundance of car culture. I am a classic American Car Guy, not necessarily only “American” cars but all cars and the unique love affair we have in this country over our freedom of mobility and method of choice, the automobile. I think the Aussies may share that lust of four-wheeled piston-engine machines as well.
There is however what appears to me to be a waning interest in the classic attraction to cars as an extension of our personalities. For millennials and to a larger extent the gen Z kids that are now reaching the driving age in America, cars are not holding the social status they once did, nor are they as much an extension of one’s personality. They were a much bigger part of the lives of their parents however as was the case certainly for the late born Boomers, like me, and the Gen Xers.
Cars are far more utilitarian to many younger people and this newest generation which is just now coming of age is more likely to use public transit or services like Uber and Lyft as they become working adults.
Will America become more “European” with its views on transportation? Are young people today less interested in the freedom of travel that our society has bestowed upon them via the ease and affordability of cars in America? I don’t necessarily think that is the case. I believe they are not as concerned about the “image” generated by the car, perhaps they see it as a tool, not a toy.
I say tools can be toys too 🙂
Maybe I am wrong as my view on this is purely anecdotal. But it seems to me that a large group of young people today would be happy if we all drove four wheel-ed boxes that looked the same with perhaps nothing more than stretch versions of the same utilitarian package for larger families. Sure Sally takes the red one and Mary gets the blue, John got a four seater, Jim got a 6 seater. Is that enough personal expression?
But it could be that young people are the opposite. Perhaps they see the car as a toy and public transit, Uber and the like, as the tool. There are far more brilliant people than I that know the answers to these questions, I just like cars.
So that brings me to the title of this post. Portland is hosting the International Auto Show this weekend and manufacturers from all over the world will have their amazing machines on display. Everything from eco-cars to exotic super-cars will be available to see, touch and enjoy. I love the auto show! If you want to see the direction that the auto industry is heading, go to the show, look at the cars, read the materials and pay attention to what the under 30 crowd is looking at and asking about. That will tell us where the industry is going.
So I write this blog about life in the ‘Couv’ and the auto show is a couple of exits ‘south of the border’. This is one of those times where living in the ‘Couv’ has a proximity advantage allowing us to travel those ‘treacherous’ bridges and head south to that seemingly far-away place called ‘Portlandia’. Don’t worry, you get to come back after the show 😉
Be sure to check out the auto show and see what wonders the automotive engineers have come up with this year. From a Prius to a Tesla, or a Hellcat to a Porsche, it’s all there.
Check online to see if any auto dealerships are offering discount or even freebie passes to the show.
Here are some of the posts from the past on this blog about cars and car culture:
- Shoebox Nova… May, 2013
- Cars and the ‘Couv’… May, 2013
- Cars… New Affluent Bling… April, 2014
- Cruizin’ and Racin’… June, 2014
- Cruisin’ the Gut… July, 2014
- Cleaning out the Garage… October, 2014
- Automotive Nirvana… June, 2015
- Hot-N-Wild… July, 2015
- Traffic Engineers… August, 2015
- Car Buying… August, 2016
- Roundabouts… October, 2016
Ah, the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.