Most drivers think their old car is more eco-friendly than buying an electric vehicle

NEW YORK — Gen-Z and baby boomers may agree on more than either generation will admit. Case in point: newer isn’t always better, even for eco-friendly technology like electric cars!

A survey of 2,000 American car drivers and owners finds that both generations equally believe the items they own should last at least 10 years (84%). While seven in 10 respondents overall try to thrift their clothes and belongings as much as possible, 78 percent of those between 18 and 40 try to thrift clothes and belongings in an effort to create less waste or lower their environmental impact.

Commissioned by Ally Financial and conducted by OnePoll, the study also found thriftiness goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. Eighty-two percent of people try to be as sustainable as possible by reusing and saving items as often as they can.

Hanging on until the last second

The average American has had their current phone for four years, their computer for five, and their home for eight. Younger consumers also tend to keep their cars for long periods of time. More than half of respondents in the 18-40 age range believe vehicles should last for seven or more years (64%).

More than half of respondents (56%) still drive their first car, and just as many (59%) would rather buy a used car than a new model. The preference is even stronger among 18 to 40-year-olds, with 71 percent opting for used over new cars. As to why younger consumers favor a used car over a new car, most younger respondents cited sustainability (63%) and ease of driving (63%) as key motivators, along with affordability (46%).

American drivers are also split over which is more eco-friendly — 32 percent believe newer cars with the latest emissions control technology are better for the environment. Meanwhile, 52 percent believe older cars are more sustainable since they use fewer resources than building new cars.

“Gen Z and millennials prioritize sustainability and that influences consumer attitudes on everything from clothes to cars,” says Gabe Garroni, Senior Vice President of Insurance, Ally Financial in a statement. “Whether younger generations are purchasing an electric vehicle, or a used car, the goal remains the same: to lessen environmental impact.”

Raising the bar on electric cars

When shopping for a car, respondents look for features like reliability (65%), affordability (63%), performance (49%), safety features (49%), and efficiency (45%). Many respondents (42%) also say the mileage on the odometer comes into play. However, this is more vital for older generations. A majority (53%) of respondents over age 57 consider mileage on the odometer as a feature they look for when they shop for a car.

Overall, each generation is looking for something different when it comes to shopping for a vehicle. Nearly half of younger generations want to find something more eco-friendly (47%). Meanwhile, respondents over 57 want more reliability and less maintenance (56%).

Four in five (82%) younger drivers also believe electric cars are the future and 72 percent between 18 and 40 would consider purchasing one. In comparison, only 28 percent of older drivers would consider ever purchasing an electric vehicle – even though the majority (51%) still see EVs as the future.

Respondents also admit electric vehicles have a higher bar to meet before they consider getting one. That higher bar includes features like a longer range (37%), the same affordability as a gas-powered vehicle (34%), and improved safety (30%).

“No matter the car type – used, new, or EV – we recommend car buyers consider vehicle service contracts to help extend the life of their vehicle and protect their wallets from unexpected repair costs,” Garroni says. “Ask your dealer about how service contracts help cover repairs and replacement parts that fall outside the factory warranty.”