Feeling overwhelmed, detached, fatigued by life in the age of lingering COVID?
Welcome to the club. It’s worldwide and a major depressant. But there’s some hope: the joy that cars bring.
Sixty-eight percent of people polled globally (63% in the U.S.) say they feel overwhelmed, according to the latest Ford Trend Report that gauges changing attitudes and “what’s on people’s minds,” says Jen Brace (below, left), Ford’s trends and futuring manager, who calls herself a futurist.
“People don’t have a lot of control over things that are happening, but they are trying to find a silver lining,” she says during a Society of Automotive Analysts presentation.
It’s not a cure-all, but an antidote to angst-causing emotional snakebites can come in the form of a vehicle.
Sure, as basic transportation, it gets you from point A to point B. Beyond that, a vehicle, in various ways, gives people pleasure.
A trend report section called “The Road to Joy” indicates 86% of surveyed people say they find happiness in their car.
“Being a source of joy is what we’re all trying to do,” Brace says of the auto industry. “This is a good-news story.”
How does a vehicle bring human happiness? The trend report counts the ways.
More than 50% of polled consumers say they simply enjoy driving. Baby Boomers and Generation X found the most joy in that activity.
The younger Generations Y and Z were most satisfied by listening to music in their vehicles. (That should get automotive infotainment engineers’ attention.)
Poll respondents said they use their vehicle to have fun (30%), relax (27%), decompress (18%) and nap (9%), though it’s best to stop the vehicle for the latter.
Depending on where people live in the world, 20% to 25% of them said a car provides a place to connect with other occupants happily.
Conversely, about the same percentage said they find joy in being alone in their vehicle.
“That speaks to the fact that a car can serve different purposes to different people at different times,” Brace says.
Andrew DiFeo, dealer principal at Hyundai of St. Augustine (FL), tells Wards, “I’m one of those people who like to be alone in my car and listening to podcasts.”
He notes that many people consider their vehicles “as extensions of themselves, whether it’s the model style or even the color.”
Car buying is a multi-step process, but the end result is the jackpot of taking delivery. As DiFeo says, “Who doesn’t love getting a new car?”
Max Muncey, senior manager of corporate communications for the multi-franchise Michigan-based LaFontaine Auto Group, waxes eloquently about the joy of cars.
“It’s the connections, memories and freedom that make automobiles so special to myself and many others,” says Muncey, who previously worked for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the Detroit Automobile Dealers Assn.
As the son of a General Motors engineer, his love affair with cars came early.
“For others, the love of the automobile may come later in life,” Muncey tells Wards. In his work, “I have been able to hear countless and heartwarming stories of how their passion for the automobile started.”
Of course, accidents, breakdowns and traffic jams can bite into the elation a car otherwise brings. But when things go right, vehicles can ward off the blues.
“The special thing about the love for the automobile is that it can start at any age and last a lifetime,” Muncey says. “It is a passion that once you’ve got it, you’ll never let it go.”