Is buying a car a want or a need? In 2021, it is the purpose and type of car that determines whether it is a necessity or a luxury. If you are buying a car for the essential requirement of getting to places, then it is a necessity. If, however, the vehicle is fitted with all the latest features beyond functionality, it is a luxury.
With the automobile industry booming in recent years, we begin to wonder whether people are fulfilling their urgent need for transportation or indulging in the ‘car status’ luxury.
A car allows us to travel quickly and securely wherever we need to go, whether to work, to the hospital, to family or for daily errands. It even provides us the bonus of getting to the park or the mall for our day off.
While car manufacturers have been adding more features in regular models too, the more luxurious features are still exclusive to the more luxurious cars. It could include heavy-duty tires replacing the factory ones, fancy rims, smart features, sunroofs, among many others.
So, let’s tackle the question of where we draw the line here with some educated opinions.
“Buying a car is typically viewed as a need, but it doesn’t have to be; what people want more than a new car is the security of knowing that the car they have can handle their daily commute. So making the choice to buy a 10-year-old used car and skip a new one is a personal decision. Everything beyond that I would consider a want. So ideally you split your car costs into the basics you need and classify them as needs and everything you buy beyond that you classify as a want. I know this adds complexity to the calculations, but it reflects the truth the best.”
Daniel Penzing, Maze of our Lives
“Buying your car would be considered a need with the many pros of it in our modern world. A car gives you the convenience to travel anywhere you want, and at any time you want. Moreover, you get the freedom to live and work anywhere within reach. Owning a car allows you to enjoy some luxuries like road trips and saves you the expenses of having to book flights, especially in the presence of family. Additionally, having your car saves you time compared to having to wait in line for a bus transit or a ride-share. Cars are great for family and emergencies. In case of an emergency, you could drive the patient instead of waiting for an ambulance. In the long run, cars are a good way of being responsible for the service and maintenance of purchasing one.”
Harriet Chan, Co-founder & Marketing Director of CocoFinder
“Having a car may feel like a need, but in truth it is usually it is a want. Many people think of their cars as a reflection of how successful they are. People take pride in having their own cars and in how their cars look because these things give them a sense of self-worth. I often come across people who seek out new wheels because they’re looking for an appearance upgrade, as well as people who are very passionate about cars in general. People get really excited about the next new models and features.”
Matt Seaburn, President of Rent-a-Wheel
“Initially, a car was nothing more than a precious possession. It was a sign of success and hard work. Moreover, you don’t have to wait for specific times for the public transport, just get the keys, fill the tank and you’re on your way! That’s when I realized it's more than just a mode of transportation, it was your key to freedom. It was your able companion and a way to free yourself from the busy world. Going from point A to B was the least you could do with a car. You can actually cut yourself off from the world and explore new places, people, and ultimately yourself. Drive away, go to a serene place, spend time observing nature, the sunsets, and the snow-laden peaks. Additionally, the love of driving a car is not only because of the horsepower the engine throws, the fun of shifting the lever and working on pedals, comfort, and ride quality; but is much more than that. It's because of the beautiful memories we make in with the vehicle, those awesome places visited along with the masterpiece of Engineering.”
Cody Crawford, Co-Founder Low Offset
“For most people in the United States, a basic vehicle is a necessity. You need transportation to reliably get you to and from work. A car also helps transporting children and for grocery shopping. The average commute time in the US is 27 minutes. Without a car, that time goes up significantly. The reason is that most of the US is set up for a car-driving society. City planners in most towns and cities laid out the design with cars in mind, and public transportation was an afterthought. For people that don't drive, this is an unfortunate reality. There are some trends that may change this. As working from home becomes more common, cars become less necessary. And self-driving cars may eliminate the need that most people have for a car. The cost per mile for self-driving cars is less than what most people spend on their own cars. Owning a car may not make financial sense in the near future.”
Garit Boothe, personal finance blogger for Digital Honey, and digital marketing professional in the FinTech industry
You’ve got a nice fund saved up in your bank account, now you want to know if you should buy yourself a car, or would that be considered excessive. If all things considered, the car possesses all the basic requirements and fulfills your basic travel requirements; then it is a need. On the other hand, it could be considered a luxury if you don’t really need it or buy one that comes with all the fancy bells and whistles. So your purpose, need and choice of vehicle are what really determine the difference between need and want.