While highly advanced adaptive cruise control can be an absolute godsend when you are stuck in stop-and-go traffic, fully autonomous vehicles on the open road are several years away.
And that’s OK by Hagerty, since the company is focusing a lot of energy on saving traditional driving. While its roots are in classic cars and the specialty vehicle insurance that goes along with them, the company is trying to evolve into more of a lifestyle brand.
Tabetha Hammer, Hagerty’s senior manager of car culture, spoke at a recent gathering of women automotive journalists, bloggers, influencers and marketers called “Heel and Wheels.”
“We believe cars are vehicles to the best things in life — freedom, self-expression, family and friends — and we pass the keys to the next generation,” Hammer says.
Hagerty is a supporter of activities at the iconic Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and regularly covers its activities on its website, including the recent Japanese Car Cruise-in, which brought hundreds of customized cars and spectators to the top floors of the museum’s parking structure.
The company runs a number of programs to encourage driving, including a Youth Driving Experience, touring series and track days. The company recently took over DriveShare, which is essentially an Airbnb for classic cars. It allows consumers to spend a day or two with their dream vehicle, like a ’66 Mustang convertible, a ’74 Ford Bronco or a ’76 Fiat 124 Spyder.
Gen-Xers and millennials are ready to carry the collectible-car torch. Data collected by Hagerty, which fields between 2,000 and 2,500 calls a day, indicates younger generations are absolutely entering the collectible-car market to replace those who are exiting.
Younger generations do seem to exert some downward pressure on car prices, or at least on their insured values. In particular, Volkswagens and vehicles from the Big Three American manufacturers are most likely to lose value from one generation to the next, per Hagerty. Even so, there are some marques that younger generations tend to value more than their original older owners did, including luxury brands such as Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz.
Another way Hagerty is trying to fuel the love of driving is via a very slick bi-monthly magazine that members of its driving club receive. Other drivers club benefits include roadside assistance and discounts on automotive items like tires or vehicle transportation.
The company also does a lot of research into the world of driving. One interesting stat Hammer presented at the Heels and Wheels event is that people may not necessarily dislike driving, just the world in which they drive. Reasons people “dislike driving” include traffic (62%), behavior by other drivers (60%) and bad weather (53%). The cost of owning a car (29%) is also a factor in fueling negative attitudes.
“Driving should be enjoyed in wide open spaces,” Hammer said. “Commuting is not driving.”
Consumers may just need continuing education to separate the two. And it could start with automotive marketers -- who should also recognize the difference.