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Millennials buying more new cars than Gen X

Millennials would prefer to text rather than drive, recent studies suggest, but they're apparently beginning to buy cars in increasing numbers.

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Gen Y now is generating a larger share of U.S. new vehicle sales than older Gen Xers, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates. But both groups still lag well behind baby boomers, who continue to be the largest group of car buyers in the U.S.

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"As Gen Y consumers enter new life stages, earn higher incomes and grow their families, their ability and desire to acquire new vehicles is increasing," said Thomas King, a J.D. Power vice president.

Gen Y, those born between 1977 and 1994, accounted for 26 percent of new vehicle retail sales this year, the J.D. Power data found, while Gen X, those born from 1965 to 1976, accounted for 24 percent of sales. Boomers still dominated with a 40 percent share of the market.

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This despite separate research by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute showing that about 30 percent of 19-year-olds hadn't gotten a driver's license in 2010, compared with just 17 percent of boomers in 1983.

By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at thedetroitbureau.com.