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Average Age of US Vehicles Remains at All-Time High

Robust car sales offset by drop in scrappage rates.

by on Jun.10, 2014

Americans are still keeping their cars and trucks for more than 11 years, according to a recent survey.

While automakers are enjoying robust sales of new cars and trucks in 2014, it would seem plenty of Americans continue to enjoy the same vehicle they’ve owned for more than a decade, according to a new survey.

The average age of cars and trucks in the U.S. remains at an all-time high of 11.4 years as of Jan. 1, according to IHS Automotive and its Polk subsidiary.

Beyond the Headlines!

“In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road,” said Mark Seng, director of aftermarket solutions at IHS Automotive, in a statement. “This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years.”

While that’s still at the highest levels since Polk started following the numbers, it is unchanged from last year. The only is one alteration: trucks have hit the same age level as cars.

While sales, which are expected to exceed 16 million units this year, are strong, new cars joining the fleet aren’t being offset as much by higher scrappage rates of old cars. In other words, old cars are lasting longer.

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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.

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Consequently, there’s more cars on the road. IHS says there were 252.7 million, up 3.7 million or 1.5% from the previous year.

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IHS also believes 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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7 Responses to “Average Age of US Vehicles Remains at All-Time High”

  1. I believe this trend will grow once people realize the Black Box mandate in the 2015 cars. Also the multi-million recalls have people leery.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      Notice, however, Mark, that the vast bulk of recent recalls — and not just GM’s — have tended to be on older models. That said, with vehicle complexity growing annually, the risk of more recalls gets higher every year.

      Paul E.

    • Jonathan says:

      What is the ” Black Box ” mandate?

      • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

        Federal regulators are planning to require so-called “black boxes,” otherwise known as data recorders, on all vehicles. These would track such things as vehicle speed, use of brakes, and so on, and could assist in a variety of things, such as accident investigations and tracking possible safety defects that might cause a crash or just a problem for a motorist. Unlike aircraft black boxes, they would not record driver conversation. The vast majority of vehicles on the road now come with black boxes, anyway, a move most automakers have made on their own for a variety of reasons. They usually record only a short clip of information before the data is written over. The feds would mandate the devices on all vehicles and would standardize what information must be recorded.

        The plan has raised concerns among privacy advocates and some others. But even without the federal mandate many authorities have begun subpoenaing black box data for use in investigations. While some opponents fear the devices would go so far as to allow authorities to take control of a vehicle, that is not in the proposal. (Some stolen vehicle recovery systems, ie OnStar, can be equipped to disable a vehicle, however.)

        It may also become possible to use black box data to support separate proposals in a few states that would base road use taxes on miles driven, rather than on a per-gallon basis. But it wouldn’t necessarily require using black boxes for that purpose.

        Paul A. Eisenstein

  2. Chuck H. says:

    With 92+ million people not working in this country, and the economy still a non-starter, why is this such a surprise?

  3. Jorge M. says:

    Many if not most people are oblivious to the economic problems in the U.S. as they are not directly impacted until they lose their job, retirement and home. Those of means or credit worthiness just keep buying because they can.

  4. Ray B says:

    I a presently looing for a bit older car. 1929-1933 REO will do nicely. Wonder what that does to the statistics.