By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) It’s always interesting when real world facts get in the face of conventional wisdom.

That conventional wisdom had been the generation raised on technology loved their iPods more than their cars. It turns out they want both. It’s just they can afford an iPod.

Interview: WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert talks with Chief Economist Lacey Plache.

This hit near panic levels in the past week, when the Public Interest Research Group put out the following press release.

LINK: Public Interest Research Group Press Release

Many stories were written on this, with wild speculation about everything from how it could hurt car sales to how it may herald the era of self driving cars. That way this generation could have their connectivity without being bothered by having to deal with all of those dirty little driving issues.

There’s one telling point in this research that causes everything to collapse like a house of cards.

The decline in youth driving is from 2001 to 2009. 2009 was the trough of the recession, and young people were more deeply affected. They couldn’t afford a car, and—even if they could—they didn’t have a job to drive it to

As chief economist Lacy Plache points out, 2012 saw a big jump in the number of young car buyers. It turns out they like cars and driving after all.

LINK: Edmunds Research On Young Drivers.

As the father of a 17 year old, I can tell you my son has wanted to drive for some time, as have his friends of both genders. They are also a far more diverse generation than the baby boomers that I grew up with.

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