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IHS: average age of vehicles on the road in US steady at 11.4 years; scrappage rate declining

9 June 2014

The combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. remained steady at 11.4 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation taken 1 Jan of this year, according to IHS Automotive.

Total light vehicles in Operation (VIO) in the US reached a record level of more than 252,700,000—an increase of more than 3.7 million (1.5 percent) since last year. In addition, new vehicle registrations outpaced scrappage by more than 24% for the first time in a decade, according to the analysis.

The average age is in line with the trend shift first seen in 2013, in which the combined fleet of cars and light trucks on the road is older than ever. New analysis, however, indicates the average age of light trucks has increased in the past year to the same age as passenger cars, both at 11.4 years. This is the first time this has happened since 1995, when the data was first reported.

In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road. This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction. We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and the increasing quality of today’s automobiles.

—Mark Seng, director, aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive

Looking ahead, IHS forecasts that average age of vehicles is likely to remain at 11.4 years through 2015, then rise to 11.5 years by 2017 and 11.7 years by 2019. This rate of growth is slowing as compared to the last five years due to the substantial increase in new vehicle sales.

The number of vehicles scrapped in 2013 was significantly fewer than in previous years, with just over 11.5 million vehicles scrapped during the 12-month timeframe analyzed by IHS Automotive. In comparison, a record high of more than 14 million vehicles were scrapped in 2012. This while VIO is up 1.5%, a rate the auto industry hasn’t seen in the US since 2004-2005.

With the shift in ownership comes shift in the age of vehicles within segments of the overall fleet, which is important to business planners in the aftermarket and service industries so they can manage inventories of parts required and plan for sales and service activity accordingly.

Based on the growth of new vehicle registrations in the past few years as the US auto industry has rebounded, IHS Automotive forecasts that the volume of vehicles 0-5 years old will increase by 32% over the next five years while vehicles in the 6-11 year old category will decline by 21%. Because of improved quality and consumers holding their cars and light trucks longer, vehicles 12-plus years old continue to grow and will increase by 15% by 2019.

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Comments

Many vehicles from Toyota, BMW, Mercedes etc are built to last 15+ years.

As the US middle class is forced to move down towards the lower class, more Americans will keep their vehicles for 15+ years as people do in Cuba?

@Harvey,
Our 16-yo Toyota still has the paint and interior like new, and the engine and transmission and A/C are still running like new even now at 120,000 miles. Needs new shock struts but that's about it to make the ride like new. It's too wasteful to replace a car every 11-12 yrs! With BEV's and PHEV's, a car probably will still be useable at 20 yrs.

I believe you. My wife had a Corolla and a Camry for 15+ years each. Her 1999 Camry with 200,000+ Km is still in trouble free (& rust less) use with one of our daughter. That was enough to convince me to switch to Toyotas. I'm finished and done with Olds, Buicks, Chryslers etc.

Our 2012 and 2013 Prius and Camry Hybrids are good for another 14 to 15 years or so. So far, nothing but regular oil-filter changes. Since we both use summer + winter wheels-tires, they will last 150,000+ Km or about 8 to 10 years before new tires are required. It may be the right time to switch for PHEVs or BEVs by then. Time will tell!

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