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Ride-sharing U.S. millennials crave car ownership after all

Woman's legs are dangling out a car window during a summer road trip.

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It turns out that young people love cars and would rather own one than rely on ride-sharing services from the likes of Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.

American millennials, people who were born from 1980 to 2004, are more captivated by cars than their parents and still want the freedom of owning one, according to a new study from San Diego consulting firm Strategic Vision Inc. That contradicts predictions in recent years that auto sales would suffer as millennials, also known as Generation Y, took Uber instead of buying their own vehicles.

The Strategic Vision Study came up with a Customer Love Index, which measures how much consumers like using and owning their vehicles based on 120 aspects of the car or service. In the study, Millennials are happier with the vehicles they buy than any other generation, said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision.

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"They love their vehicles even more than luxury owners love theirs," Edwards said in a telephone interview. "Ride sharing is not a reason for them to delay purchasing a vehicle or a replacement for vehicle ownership."

Millennials do like using ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, Edwards said. They tend to use them for specific reasons like going out for the evening or attending events where parking and traffic are problems, he said. For younger drivers, Uber is replacing cabs, not cars. As a group, Millennials gave Uber a CLI score of 362, while their most beloved model, the Nissan Juke, got a score of 542, the study showed.

The trends show up in sales data, too. While millennials have fueled growth for Uber and Lyft, in 2014 they bought more cars than Generation X for the first time, according to J.D. Power & Associates.

The study said that they like fun sport utilities. In addition to the funky Juke, they also liked Subaru Crosstrek and the Jeep Wrangler. The two passenger cars in the top five are the Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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