While it is true that many Americans are out there buying new cars, and sales are booming, studies indicate that many more are hanging onto their current vehicles.
Where do automakers and their dealers fit in this mix?
Automakers are enjoying sales results reminiscent of their boom years earlier this century, but even as of buyers begin flooding showrooms again, cash in hand, the average age of cars and trucks in the U.S. has climbed to a record 11.4 years.
The average vehicle age jumped from 11.2 years last year, according to R.L. Polk & Co. And the increase poses potential opportunities for both new vehicle manufacturers as well as parts and service vendors who will be needed to keep the aging American auto fleet running.
The average age of the typical American passenger cars was slightly higher than for trucks. In 2013, the average age of passenger cars was 11.4 years, up from 11.3 years in 2012, while the average age of trucks in 2013 was 11.3 years, up from 11.1 years in 2012.
The figures have been climbing steadily over time as just 10 years ago the average age of a vehicle was 9.7 years.
While the rising age and rising sales numbers may seem to be in conflict – the industry may top 16 million units this year compared with just 10.4 million in 2009 – there’s a simple reason for the results.
The number of vehicles between six and 11 years old are shrinking, as they’re being traded in for more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, but the number of vehicles 12 years and older are rising: a tribute to the oft-touted improved quality of cars and trucks.
In addition to the fact that America’s vehicles are older than ever, the country is trending toward having more vehicles than ever. There were 247 million U.S. and trucks registered in 2013, which is just shy of the record 250 million in 2008. Polk estimates that figure will grow to 260 million vehicles by 2018.