"Modern technology allows us to transcend time and space so that we can feel like we're with our friends and family--even if we are apart," Connelly said. "I also think that the car as the quintessential status symbol [has faded]. It used to be you turned 16 in the '70s, '80s, maybe in the '90s, the car was the gateway purchase into adulthood. And now people would say the cellphone is the gateway purchase into adulthood."
Jonathan Frausto, 21, a hair stylist at Bumble and Bumble in New York City, agrees. He used to own a car when living in California but finds having a car is not as necessary now, especially in an era of broadband and 3G connections.
"Now that it's easier to connect to people through all these different websites, it's like you don't see people making much of an initiative to, like, drive out and see someone," he said.
Connelly and Ford want to change that mentality.
Ford is hatching plans to provide 100 influencers in the social media space with the Ford Fiesta for six months, a project the company undertook once before.
To boot, Ford wants to appeal to a generation of digital natives by creating a more seamless transition from the home or the office into the car.
"I think we live in a world of constant connectivity, and the level of connection we have at home or work is the same level that we expect to have at every point in between," Connelly said. "So you have all these drivers and passengers that are bringing these handheld devices into the car, and they're saying, 'I still want access.'"
Ford pioneered Sync, its platform that pairs with any Bluetooth-enabled device
with the audio system such that the device becomes hands-free, voice-activated. For just $300, a driver can then access texts or stream Pandora without taking his eyes off the road.
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So how to market to a navel-gazing contingent of society? In-car social media capabilities may not be enough.
"The Millennial market is known for its desire to be very expressive and individualistic--it's one of their hallmarks," Connelly said.