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Cars – generating different attitudes?

06 Oct 2020 / Insight

By Derek Terrington

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20 years ago, a young intern at a leading investment bank was asked for his views on the future of the media industry. His published thoughts included the suggestion that his generation never watched TV. This came as a complete shock to the older generation of analysts and fund managers. Could this apply to the car industry?

The following article results from an interview between the Hardman & Co analyst, Derek Terrington, and his son, William (age 23). Derek is famous for his research note exposing Robert Maxwell in the 1990s, when he was the leading media analyst at UBS. The note was entitled “Couldn’t recommend a purchase”, the acronym of which has been quoted ever since in the City.

The car “culture”

Derek says: “When I was growing up, most of my generation, and that of my parents’, thought of the car as the prime object of desire – it was the aspirational consumer good above all others. To the post-War generations, it replaced reliance on crowded, infrequent (and often dirty) public transport, it opened up a new era of go when you feel like it to wherever you want. You could go for day trips to the coast, as well as complete holidays in the car, and getting your shopping wasn’t dictated by the bus timetable. It was not only families that loved cars; so did teenagers, and getting a licence, and even a car, was a rite of passage.”

Yet in William’s view, “the culture around cars is certainly changing, especially among younger people, accompanied by a shift in attitudes to different fuels, which is also a challenge for car manufacturers. My generation is increasingly concerned about the environment, sees the car as commonplace, rather than an object of desire, and more of a convenience than a badge of respect.”

Read the full report for more, and watch the Terringtons discuss their view in a video interview below.