Japanese Youths Prefer iPods to Cars

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Auto sales are collapsing in Japan, especially among young people who view the car as a climate-destroying anachronism, according to a fascinating report in the Wall Street Journal.

“Young people can borrow their parents’ car, and I think they’d rather spend money on PCs or iPods than cars,” says the student with shaggy hair who is in no rush to get a driver’s license.

Sales of cars in Japan have dropped to the lowest level in a decade. Only 25 percent of Japanese in their 20s want a car, down from about 50 percent in 2000, according to a recent survey cited by the Journal.

Disdain for the car is a growing phenomenon worldwide, the Journal notes.

18 responses to “Japanese Youths Prefer iPods to Cars”

  1. Guest says:

    I’m involved in a bicycle co-op in Santa Monica (Los Angeles) and have noticed that everyone, and by everyone I mean everyone has an iPod. Of course, they prefer bicycles over cars, but it goes without saying that they prefer iPods over cars. But then again, they probably prefer compost heaps over cars. Or steaming piles of god knows what, over cars. I guess the point is there’s a strong insurgent community that is ditching the automobile.

  2. angus Shangus says:

    hippy

  3. Guest says:

    jippy

  4. Extensor says:

    I quit driving about 4 years ago. No car for me. No insurance payments. No buying gas. I suppose I would be big in Japan. If you know what I mean. ;)

  5. Nicholas Volodimer says:

    They’re right, here in France for example, public transport is so much developed that one has really the choice not to have a car.

    Anyway, in 15/30 years from now, everyone will have an electric car, so…

  6. imajoebob says:

    There are obvious reasons car sales are tanking with young Japanese: utility and cost. Since Japan is a highly urbanized country, there is little need for a personal car. A great mass transit system makes it extraneous. Distances that almost everywhere else in the world requires hours of driving take minutes (relatively) on the biggest high-speed train system in the world. Even the wonderful train systems in Europe only cover limited corridors of population. Some 8 million people use the great Transport in London, but living in Southwark, the largest borough, you don’t have Tube service if you live more than a half mile from the Thames. We all know how bad mass transit is in the US, except for NYC.

    The cost may be the real impediment. While cars cost about the same as US models, parking can cost more than the car. Also, you can’t buy a car in many cities unless you have verified proof that you have a parking space, When, supposedly, putting a $100 bill on the ground in Tokyo will not pay for the space it occupies, you can only imagine how much parking costs. Add the price of petrol (~$6/gal) and traffic that makes 50mpg cars yield about 20, this makes autos simply unaffordable.

    So it seems like a simple choice: a car or a couple hundred iPods. You make the call.

    By the way, since most states outlaw wearing earphones whilst driving for safety consideration, why is it acceptable for cyclists? Not that I mind, but it just seems contradictory is all I’m saying.

  7. Damian Cugley says:

    I cycle to work and I don’t use an iPod while on my bike — I think that would be stupid. On the other hand, I also think cycling or driving while using a phone is stupid, and people do that regardless of my opinion.

  8. Guest says:

    In Los Angeles and Santa Monica (where I live) you can get a citation for having headphones covering both ears. You are allowed to have one headphone in, in which case I would probably leave my left hear uncovered as to hear traffic approaching on my left. Again, as with most cycling laws, its selectively enforced.

  9. Sarah says:

    I agree with imajoebob. I have lived in Tokyo for more then 3 years and noticed that the Japan mass transit is so convenient that cars in most cases are not needed. Also I’m not too familiar with the car laws in Japan but I have heard that cars more the 5 years old is actually taxed heavily probably to push consumers to purchase a new car rather then keep up with the tax.