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Polk study finds US consumers holding onto vehicles longer

The average length of ownership of new vehicles continues to increase, according to a recent analysis from Polk. Consumers are now holding onto a new vehicle, on average, for 63.9 months based on second quarter 2010 data, up 4.5 months from the same time last year, according to Polk.

Average months of vehicle ownership. Data: Polk. Click to enlarge.

Length of ownership has risen each quarter since the end of 2008 and serves as an indicator of business opportunities available to the automotive aftermarket, based on the increasing numbers of older vehicles in operation that may need service or parts, and an increasing number of vehicles on the road falling out of warranty.

It also highlights opportunities for manufacturers to consider targeting those consumers that are hanging on to older vehicles as potential customers for new vehicle purchases.

According to Polk, the average length of new vehicle ownership increased an average of 3.7% annually prior to the economic and auto industry meltdown in late 2008. Since that time, average length of ownership of new vehicles has increased more than 14%, with no signs of slowing down.

When considering registrations for used models, average length of ownership also is at a record high—46.1 months—up from 43.8 months from the same period in 2009. New and used vehicles combined have an average length of ownership of 52.2 months based on second quarter analysis, according to Polk.



This trend may last another 10+ years unless business and individual culture changes. Deeper in debt/bigger is better... and other unsustainable addictions are rooted very deeply into USA's post war population. Rectitude has been eroded for years and it will take time to re-introduce the basic values that made USA prosper in the first place.


This trend will continue as long as the economy remains slow and fuel prices don't spike. Another fuel-price spike (or substantial increase in taxes) will move consumers to retire SUVs and other vehicles with poor fuel economy, increasing activity at the small-vehicle end of the market.


Recent increases in fuel price (from under $3.50 to over $4.30 USD/US gal) seemed to have the opposite effect in Canada. Larger-heavier vehicles have re-gained popularity and sales, specially in Western Canada. The re-action is slightly different in Eastern Canada.

The Ontario Green Car ($8K) support did not have the expected results (yet). However, the fuel frugal Sonata 2011 is one of the best seller with the large Ford F-150.


That's because the Canadian dollar has appreciated about 50% against the USD since 2000.

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