Trading up for the newest model used to be the norm, but a faltering economy and widely improved reliability are both stretching how long consumers keep their cars.
At least that’s what two different studies are suggesting. One from AutoMD.com says almost eight of 10 owners hang onto their cars for a decade or longer while another from Black Book says most owners plan to retain their cars for between 125,000 and 150,000 miles.
While that is certainly a reflection of more conservative buying patterns, it’s also an indication of overall vehicle quality improving and dealers offering zero-cost maintenance programs. Both factors combine to encourage long-term ownership at levels that would have been unheard of only a few years ago.
“There is nothing surprising about the economy driving car owners to hold onto their vehicles for longer – our data has been showing this trend for the past three years; but what is most compelling is that longer ownership has become an embedded habit for car owners, regardless of what the economy does,” said Brian Hafer, VP of Marketing at AutoMD.com.
This pattern is widespread enough that it’s beginning to affect both dealerships and customers by turning what used to be a healthy supply of used vehicles into a slim crop, driving prices up.
According to the AutoMD study, 52 percent of buyers say their next purchase will be fueled by practicality while only 21 percent will look to styling as a primary consideration.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]