TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Everybody knows Gen Y people are different from aging Baby Boomers, but it’s a surprise to learn they love their cars more than the Boomers do, 63% to 51%.

Ralph Blessing, executive vice president for marketing researcher GFK, studied the two generations to determine what makes them tick and what automotive features might be required in 2020 to meet the expectations of these two disparate groups with sometime similar outlooks.

Both generations like advanced driver-assistance features at about a 70% level, so the industry move in that direction will please both the 18- to 35-year-olds and the 50- to 80-year-old consumers.

But Gen Y drivers have a much bigger interest in doing things in their cars while traveling from Point A to Point B.

The Gen Y group eats and drinks while driving at a 70% rate, compared with 52% for Boomers. And 25% of Gen Y drivers will work on their laptops when driving, compared with 4% of Boomers, Blessing says at the Management Briefing Seminars here.

Even as a passenger, Gen Y does more than the Boomers. “And most people hate being a passenger,” Blessing says.

Both age groups value quality, and women especially value the freedom of mobility. In both generations, about 60% say they are better than average drivers.

More so than Baby Boomers, Gen Y consumers desire a car that has infotainment individualized for each passenger, and they are much more interested in style.

Blessing found two Boomer segments: Those who want a safe and worry-free car, about 14% of the group; and the 14% who want to remain young.

He found three Gen Y types: Young Ambivalents (19%), mostly male who would rather ride than drive; Savvy Enthusiasts (22%), female-oriented, higher-income people who want it all; and Livin’ and Lovin’ cars (11%), a group that is not very discriminating and admits it is influenced by advertising.

Blessing suggests several ideas for future cars.

He pitches a concept that would use windows, mirrors and the space in front of a driver’s eyes to offer an array of benefits, including enhanced vision and information.

Seats that are easier to get into and out of would be good for older buyers, especially in low-slung sports cars targeted at Boomers who want to stay young, Blessing says.

For Gen Y, he suggests putting microphones and screens at every passenger position so that each can access personal infotainment.