Mining Facebook for the next big thing on wheels

Nissan's Resonance concept -- a preview of the company's future crossovers. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
UPDATED: 1/13/13 1:21 pm ET

Automakers like young people.

That's because old people tend to, inconveniently, to put it delicately, stop buying cars.

But liking young people is not the same as understanding what young people want, which is something the auto industry is mostly terrible at, despite constantly scouring Facebook for clues. This has not stopped automakers from randomly guessing as they introduce new vehicles, or from paying expensive consultants to guess at random.

Honda Motor Co., for example, said an urban SUV concept it imaginatively named the Urban SUV Concept is ideal for "active lifestyle customers in urban areas." According to the images shown, these are young people who drive around tall buildings on weekdays and spend the weekend driving through deserts and building fires by lakes.

John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, said the vehicle features "that social seating really favored by modern adults."

The corresponding on-screen image showed a group of twenty-somethings sitting at a party; they were probably talking about how annoying it is when companies describe their lives with meaningless buzzwords.

Meanwhile, Nissan Motor Co. showed off a crossover concept vehicle called the Resonance. Andy Palmer, an executive vice president, said it has an interior "almost like a VIP lounge."

Young people like to sit socially and hang out in VIP lounges, right?

Quick, someone text Facebook and find out.