Car Industry Hitting the Bumps
... Such a strategy may have a limited appeal. Young people continue
to gravitate toward urban areas where cars are not only unnecessary,
but often an expensive liability. Even in suburbs, people are finding
reasons to give up their wheels. In a sidebar to the Asahi article, a
36-year-old salaryman who lives outside of Sapporo said he recently
sold his car and doesn't plan to buy a new one, having discovered
that public transportation is pretty good. Such an admission may be
more chilling to the auto industry than younger people's car apathy,
since it implies how easy it is for even men in their 30s to give up
what many consider a fixture of modern existence.
Cars are still necessary to people in rural areas � a fact that the
ruling coalition exploits in its promotion of automotive-related
taxes that pay for more road construction. However, the coalition
reinforces its position with projections that claim the number of
potential drivers will increase, even though the trends cited above
seem to contradict such claims.
One thing is for sure: Driving no long exerts the romantic appeal it
once did. Gone are the days when automobiles represented "freedom"
and "individuality." If anything, young people see them as a burden
and an unnecessary luxury � and who can argue with them?
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