My mom, who’s well into her 80s, still drives. The only concession she makes to Calgary weather is, she no longer drives when the streets are covered in snow or ice. The consensus is that as we Baby Boomers age, we’ll put in even more miles than our parents.
We’ll drive more because we need to; boomers are blurring what used to be a bright line between ‘working years’ and ‘retirement’, so our lives as commuters won’t necessarily change when we hit 65. Boomers want to live independently, and for most North Americans that means living in neighborhoods designed around cars. We’ll also drive more for emotional reasons; cars represent freedom and independence, and we’re unwilling to let change be forced upon us as we age.
Luckily, the car industry is rapidly developing technology that will make it easier for seniors to drive longer.
This ad for the Nissan Pathfinder (which ran last year) highlights Nissan’s Around View Monitor feature that provides the driver with a bird’s eye view of his vehicle that makes parking easier. That’s nothing compared to some new Fords, that offer completely automated parallel parking.
New Audis are available that steer themselves to stay in their traffic lane and cars equipped with adaptive cruise control—another new option—will automatically adjust speed to maintain a safe following distance in traffic.
Of course, the holy grail of automated driving is a fully automated car that will drive itself to a programmed destination. That would have sounded preposterous just a few years ago, but Google has made huge strides on that project. It has fully self-driving prototypes in testing right now. (Nissan has promised that it will offer reasonably priced autonomous vehicles for sale by 2020, and the auto industry analysts at IHS have said that by the time the first Baby Boomers reach my mom's age, nearly 10% of the cars on the road will be self-driving.)
So far, the automotive industry has advertised these ‘driver aids’ in commercials featuring Gen X and Gen Y actors. But at re: we know that it’s aging drivers who will benefit most from new car technology.
The first car brand that intelligently markets these aids to aging boomers and positions itself as the company that understands and appreciates older drivers will be setting itself up for decades of, dare we say, booming sales to older drivers.