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Americans Keeping Cars Longer Than Ever

But that could depress new car sales.

by on Feb.21, 2012

Gotta make the old jalopy run just a little bit longer.

Credit better quality – or blame a bad economy, if you prefer – what’s hard to disagree with is that Americans are keeping their cars longer, according to a new report by automotive research firm R.L. Polk.

The typical owner will hold onto their new car, truck or crossover for just less than six years, according to the report.  For those who purchased a previously-owned vehicle, the typical length of ownership is just over four years.  That works out to an average, for both new and used vehicles, of 57 months, a figure that has increased 23% since the third quarter of 2008.

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On the downside, longer ownership cycles translate into fewer cars sold.  The flipside is that this could be translating into a significant bubble of pent-up demand that could fuel a surge in sales over the next several years.  Indeed, dealers suggest they’ve already begun seeing many buyers return to their showrooms in recent months as the economy has begun to improve.