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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

Netflix for cars? Mzansi’s Gen Z’s are moving differently

Deloitte's study revealed a growing trend for car subscription services among 18 to 34-year-olds.

‘No strings attached’ has found its way into the transport industry, and South Africa’s Gen Z’s are riding the wave – getting around without the hassle of long-term commitment.

While owning a car may have been a status symbol in the past, Mzansi’s Gen Z’s are creating their own mobility traditions, prioritising experiences over material possessions.

Deloitte’s 2024 Global Automotive Consumer Study reveals a growing preference for e-hailing and car subscriptions among Gen Z’s – as opposed to owning a vehicle.

Although only one in five consumers prefer car subscription models, the interest is prominent among 18 to 34-year olds, with 28% expressing a preference for subscription services over traditional ownership.

ALSO READ: More than other generations, Gen Z’s believe they’ll be rich one day

Riding with flexibility

GM of Sales and Marketing at Kinto One South Africa, Slade Thompson said the shift in mindset is reshaping the concept of mobility favouring shared experiences and flexibility over traditional car ownership.

Adding to the mobility revolution is SA’s high inflation which has caused consumers to think twice even when it comes to the slightest purchase.

“The economy we all face right now is daunting, especially for those who have only just entered the workforce. Owning a car is not exactly an accessible mobility option, but that’s not going to stop this new generation from getting wheels on the road,” Thompson said.

While owning a vehicle sounds more convenient than a vehicle subscription, Thompson notes that Gen Z’s appreciate the ‘flexibility’ of having a ride without the hassle of ownership.

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Netflix on wheels?

While the idea of getting around conveniently without the admin and financial responsibility of vehicle maintenance sounds exciting, car subscription services are still a blur for many South Africans.

So, how does it really work? “Think of it as Netflix for cars,” Thompson said.

“Instead of owning, you subscribe to a car service, choosing from a range of vehicles depending on your needs and budget. Monthly fees typically cover insurance, maintenance, and even roadside assistance,” he explained.

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Money matters

Acknowledging that Gen Z’s typically seek mobility solutions that align with their ‘dynamic’ lifestyle, Thompson said the preference for subscription services was more than a lifestyle-drive decision.

“The mania inherent in today’s economic climate plays a critical role in the rise of subscription vehicles.”

According to Deloitte’s research, 80% of consumers expect to pay less than R9 451,19 a month for their next used or new vehicle subscription.

“This aligns with Gen Z’s pragmatic approach to spending, prioritising value and flexibility in their transportation choices,” said Thompson.

Meanwhile, the integration of technology is also a significant factor in the growing trend.

“Raised in the age of digital, Gen Z consumers value convenience and seamless experiences.

“Car manufacturers and dealers are adapting by exploring new profit streams, including in-house insurance products and subscription services, signalling a potential disruption to the traditional automotive business model,” Thompson noted.

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