In the last year, the average age of the 247 million American cars and trucks on the road hit 11.4 years. This number has been steadily rising since 2007, as quality cars have become more and more available to consumers. Polk research firm indicates that people are finding their cars to be longer lasting and therefore finding it easier to get away from monthly payments.
Following the recession, the average amount of cars sent to the scrap yard has dropped nearly 50 percent. Additionally, car sales have been rising gradually after an all-time low of 10.4 million in 2009 because consumers have been looking to replace the cars they kept through the recession with newer, more reliable models with lower interest rates.
Not only is this rise in aging cars good news for American auto companies who are successfully putting out long-lasting, consumer-approved cars, but this is also good for repair shops and auto part stores.
Mark Seng, Polk vice president, aftermarket and commercial vehicles, explained, “Customers from independent and chain repair shops should be paying close attention to their business plans and making concerted efforts to retain business among the do-it-for-me audience, while retailers have a unique and growing opportunity with potential consumers wrenching on their own vehicles.”
With this rate of older American cars on the road rising so steadily, Polk doesn’t see the age dropping for at least 5 years, even taking into consideration that U.S. vehicle sales are running at a yearly rate of 15.5 million. Seng indicates that the growth rate will certainly slow in coming years, but it won’t really fall until new-car sales can maintain a high rate for a number of years.
The company additionally predicts that the percentage of cars above the age of 12 years will rise in the next 5 years. Research shows that more people are financing cars for up to 72 months, indicating plans to keep the car for 6 years or more.