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Polk, the global automotive market intelligence outfit, recently conducted a study among US consumers that showed motorists in America are holding onto their cars and trucks for a record number of years.
Using data collected from US vehicle registrations, Polk discovered that the ownership period from when a new car was first purchased until the owner trades it in now stands at 71.4 months or almost six years. For those consumers who bought used vehicles, the ownership duration is now at an average of 49.9 months.
As to why consumers are holding onto their cars for longer, Polk cites a number of different factors. First, with the US economy still shaky and many Americans out of a job and looking for work, consumers are simply being cautious when it comes to spending. Secondly, in order to make vehicle purchases more affordable on a monthly basis, automakers and financing companies are now offering record length purchase and leasing agreements, reducing monthly payments. As a result, there’s less of an incentive to trade vehicles every three or even five years, as was customary in the past.
The findings from the Polk survey have also helped contribute to a rising average age of vehicles on American roads, which now stands at 10.8 years. This means, that it’s a good time to be in the automotive aftermarket business, as these older vehicles will require servicing and replacement parts.
According to Mark Seng, Global Aftermarket Practice leader at Polk, this rising age of vehicles also,”creates concerns about appropriate parts inventory,” an issue Polk is attempting to address by “currently working with customers in the aftermarket to help them prepare for increasing demand throughout the entire supply chain.”
According to a study in the US by leading automotive market intelligence firm Polk, the average age of cars and trucks in operation in the US today is currently some 10.8 years.
Vehicle age has been increasing quite rapidly over the last few years as tough economic times have forced many potential vehicle buyers to hold off on new purchases. Trucks and SUVs in particular, have experienced a faster age rate than passenger cars.
According to Polk statistics, cars showed a bump from 11 to 11.1 years in the period from 2010 to June 2011, while trucks showed an increase from 10.1 to 10.4 years on average.
While the growth in vehicle age might not be seen as necessarily good for auto manufacturers and new car showrooms, on the flipside, it represents more opportunities for aftermarket parts companies, independent garages and dealer service departments, since the longer vehicles are on the road, the more they require servicing and repairs.
“The increasing age of the vehicle fleet, together with the increasing length of ownership, offers significant business growth opportunity for the automotive aftermarket,” declared Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at Polk.
That said, with an improvement in new vehicle sales during 2011, in the coming years, the age rate of vehicles on US roads will likely slow, especially given the current popularity of vehicles such as compacts and mid-size crossovers.