04/03/2012 11:43 am ET

Buying A Car Is No Longer A Priority For Twenty-Somethings

The quintessential dream of waking up on your sixteenth birthday to find a new car adorned with a big red bow parked in the driveway is now a thing of the past.

In an age of smartphones, iPads and other high-tech diversions, young drivers are just not that into cars anymore, as the New York Times noted in a recent article.

According to the New York Times, less than half of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had a license in 2008 compared to 64.4 percent of the same-age group in 1998. And 46 percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 prefer Internet access over owning a car.

Car makers are certainly busy scratching their heads trying to figure out how to make a car that will appeal to the millennial masses.

Here are five reasons why 20-somethings aren't buying cars:

1.They Live In Cities Around one-third of those in their 20s and early 30s live in urban areas, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center in 2010. That is an uptick, compared to previous generations. And even for those who don't live in a city--yet--many aspire to move to one, and away from McMansion Land, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal (h/t to The Atlantic).

2. They Don't Make That Much Money A decent used car can run a couple thousand dollars while a new, tin-can car is going to cost a minimum of $12,000 to $15,000 to buy. This doesn't even start to include annual costs like insurance, which is more than $1,500 on average for adults between the ages of 18 and 25, according to And then there is gas, which is nosing ever closer to the $4 per gallon mark. Meanwhile, the job market has not exactly been awesome for new college graduates who carry student loans that total $45,000, on average.

3. They Live At Home Who needs a car when mom can drive you? Or lend you the car keys? A recent study from Pew Research showed that 40 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are living with mom and dad because of the economy.

4. They Share Cars Smartphones and social media have led to all different kinds of revolutions, and ride-sharing is one of them. New social media sites allow riders, drivers and vehicles to hook up in faster and more flexible ways.

5. They Dig Public Transportation In 2011, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation, according to the most recent data from the American Public Transportation Association. The last time public transport ridership was this high was in 1957, said the APTA. In addition, the number of miles driven in a vehicle declined slightly last year, according to the APTA survey. Two main reasons behind these statistics: rising gas prices and more people returning to work after the job slump in 2009-2010. Also, new apps to track bus and rail arrival times are making public transportation more user friendly, the APTA noted.