Travel on U.S. roads fell to its lowest level since 2003, while Americans hold on to their cars longer than ever, two Detroit newspapers report to the horror of their carbuilding readers.
Last year, U.S. drivers logged 35.7 billion fewer miles over 2010 — down 1.2 percent — to 2.963 trillion miles. That’s the fewest number of miles since 2003, when Americans drove 2.890 trillion miles, the Federal Highway Administration told the Detroit News.
What’s keeping people off the streets? Says the DetN:
“Stubbornly, high gas prices and an economic slowdown since 2008 have convinced some Americans not to drive as much.”
At the same time, people are holding on to their cars longer than ever. The research firm R.L. Polk told the Detroit Free Press that new vehicle owners kept their an average of 71.4 months, or nearly six years, the longest in the eight years Polk has done the survey, and nearly two years longer than the average life of ownership in 2003.
The average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads reached a record 10.8 years.
Looking for reasons, the Freep heard a familiar tune:
“Consumer spending remains conservative in a still-weak job market with relatively high unemployment rates. Many buyers have longer-term financing options to secure more affordable payments. In addition, vehicles produced in recent years have been more durable and reliable than their predecessors.”