American Fleet Aging, Polks Says Average Now 11.4 Years Old, A Record
The age of the American car and light truck fleet is the oldest it’s ever been, according to data firm R.L. Polk. Polk said in 2012 the average age all light vehicles on U.S. roads was 11.4 years, up from 11.2 years in 2011, and 10.9 years in 2010, the eleventh straight annual increase.
The average is based on registration data for 247 million vehicles. If you go back 11.4 years from 2012, you end up around 2000-2001 when 17.2 million vehicles were sold, the all-time record for the U.S. market. Sales in 2004-2005 were almost as good. Combine those figures with the 27 year low of under 10.5 million units sold in the recessionary year of 2009 and vehicles’ increased durability with 200,000 miles of usable service a fairly common occurrence nowadays, and it easy to understand why the fleet is aging. Cars last longer and for economic reasons Americans are trying to eke out a few more miles from their current vehicles. Still, the phrase “pent-up demand” is starting to be heard around the industry. Polk predicts that registrations will increase 5% by 2018, to 260 million cars and light trucks, surpassing the previous record of 250 million in 2008.
Its all about maintenance costs...
My wife's ride is almost ten years old. We've never kept cars as long as we do now. First it's nice not to have any new car payments, but most importantly, with this economy and an uneasy feeling about a job loss for either of us, I just don't want that added liability. Our cars are just fine as is and serve their purpose.
A graph that shows any measure of the age of the car fleet advancing relentlessly and steadily for 16 years indicates that economic fluctuations are not that much of a factor. Two things are: 1. cars do last longer - 200k miles are the new 100k miles - or some such. 2. this year's model vehicle is very little better than older models. For example, the plain vanilla Porsche 991 top ends at 180 mph versus 172 for its equivalent 996 built 14 years ago. This makes not a rat's ass since either speed is faster than any of these vehicles will ever go except(maybe)for a few seconds on track day (at very few tracks, indeed). If you doubt this, think how often we try to sell new cars based on their whiz bang electronics. Truth is, aftermarket electronics are, quite often, better and cheaper. Plus, you can get only what you want and need. No bundling. Seriously, am I so goddam stupid that I need a computer app showing (maybe) the nearest gas station so that I don't run out of fuel on the highway? Don't answer that!
It's all the fault of Irv Gordon and his 3 million mike Volvo...