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Polk finds average age of US light vehicles continues to increase

Global automotive market intelligence firm Polk reports the average age of all light vehicles on the road in the US now stands at a record high of 11.4 years, based on review of more than 247 million US car and light truck registrations earlier this year.

For passenger cars, average age also met a record high at 11.4 years, while the average age of light trucks also increased to a record 11.3 years. Polk expects this trend to continue, while a shift in the fleet of vehicles in operation (VIO) is underway.

Average age of US cars and light trucks. Note y-axis scale starts at “9 years” to enable seeing the slight differences by year. Data: Polk. Click to enlarge.

As part of its most recent analysis and the growth of vehicle registrations in the past few years, Polk found that the volume of 6-11 year old vehicles is declining, while the group of vehicles older than 12 years is on the rise. This trend supports the increase in average age and creates a potential strategic shift in the aftermarket as business owners consider options for growth and opportunity.

Polk recently developed a new forecast for vehicles in operation (VIO) through 2018. With the rebound in new vehicle registrations, Polk is forecasting the total VIO to grow 5% to more than 260 million vehicles by 2018.



I have always found the durability of cars fascinating. Could it be that people driving less per day or less per trip or less days per week is allowing cars to stay in service longer? The greater desire to maintain and re-sell? The longer period of warranty service plans offered with purchase? Fewer small trips with their accompanying starts? Higher highway miles to local miles ratio? More durable parts or assemblies? The increased use of computerized sensors and diagnostics to diagnose earlier or better? In housing, a lot of academic work has been done on the best way 'green' the stock (i.e. comparing buying a new energy-efficient house vs upgrade/restore - with all the gradations and assumptions with that). Haven't seen as much data with cars - better to push for quicker replacement cycles by making significant efficiency/quality improvements? How much in annual repairs or deteriorating fuel efficiency necessitates a new car? Many would do simple calculations on a car's 'return'. More vehicle longevity/ durability/ life-cycle analysis papers, pls.

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