Americans Giving Up Some Image For Practicality

May 26, 2009

How do you think about your car? Is it less "you" in these tougher times?

That seemed to be the intent of a survey of 1000 U.S. adults—not necessarily car owners or shoppers—conducted nearly a month ago by Ipsos Public Affairs for the used-car giant CarMax, asking the following: “Thinking about your car, would you say that it…”

Respondents were then given seven responses to choose from, with the opportunity to select multiple responses. An overwhelming 71 percent of respondents replied that a car “gets me from point A to point B,” and 30 percent said that a car “has to do it all without breaking the bank.”

Of particular note in this survey is that just 20 percent, or one out of five respondents, said that their vehicle “defines who I am”—a figure that was far higher in the past, by other metrics—and 17 percent said that their car “is where I go to get away.”

Is this yet another indicator of the ever-declining car culture, or just a sign that tight budgets kick us into a more practical, car-as-appliance mindset than we’d otherwise have? Certainly worth considering here is that six percent of the sample set indicated they don’t drive.

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