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Off to the Junkyard: Vehicle Scrappage Rates Soar

Biggest jump since Cash for Clunkers program.

by on Mar.10, 2011

Auto scrappage rates are rising fast as the nation's vehicle fleet ages.

While car sales may be on the mend, demand is still substantially below the 17-million peak the U.S. market saw a decade ago.  And a substantial number of the vehicles sold during the last industry boom are going bust, which means a big jump in business for America’s junkyards.

The number of vehicles scrapped during the fourth quarter of 2010 spiked to the highest level seen since the brief Cash for Clunkers program – which was specifically intended to get old products off the road – reports Experian Automotive, an Illinois firm that tracks vehicle sales and registration data.

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The number of passenger cars sent to scrapyards or otherwise pulled from operation rose by 28.3% during the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter.  For SUVs, pickups and other light trucks, the increase was an astounding 58.2%.

To put things into perspective, the annual scrappage rate was 5.3% for passenger cars, last year, and 3.5% for light trucks.  The vehicles most often junked were built between 1983 and 1992.