We’re coming up on the centennial of the moving assembly line, the seminal event that helped put America on wheels. Today, there are more cars than licensed drivers in the U.S. – but a new study adds to growing concerns that America’s love affair with the automobile might be coming to an end.
There have been a number of recent studies that seem to support that argument, including research by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, that Millennials are generally waiting longer to get their licenses than prior generations – if they get them at all.
But a new UMTRI study raises even more flags, noting that the number of vehicles on U.S. roads peaked in 2008 and has been steadily declining since then.
That could be the result of a weak economy, concedes author Michael Sivak. “On the other hand,” he quickly cautions, the trend was already in motion even before 2008, the rate of growth slowing before the automotive market dipped into its worst downturn since the Great Depression. That just could “reflect other societal changes that influence the need for vehicles,” according to Sivak.