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IHS: Vehicle aging hits plateau

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (June 17, 2014) — The combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. has plateaued at 11.4 years and likely won’t change much in the coming few years, according to IHS Automotive.

The number of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. in January edged up 1.5 percent to a record of more than 252.7 million since last year, according to IHS Automotive analysis from July 2013.  

In addition, new vehicle registrations outpaced scrappage by more than 24 percent for the first time in a decade.

IHS said the average age is in line with the trend shift first seen in 2013, in which the combined fleet of cars and light trucks on the road is older than ever. New analysis, however, indicates the average age of light trucks has increased in the past year to the same age as passenger cars, both at 11.4 years. This milestone marks the first time this has happened since 1995, when the data were first reported, IHS said.

“In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road,” said Mark Seng, director, aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive. “This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction. We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and the increasing quality of today’s automobiles.”

IHS forecasts that the average age of vehicles likely will remain at 11.4 years through 2015, then rise to 11.5 years by 2017 and 11.7 years by 2019. The growth rate is slowing due to the substantial increase in new vehicle sales.

The number of vehicles scrapped in 2013 was significantly fewer than in previous years, with more than 11.5 million vehicles scrapped during the 12-month timeframe analyzed by IHS Automotive. In comparison, a record high of more than 14 million vehicles were scrapped in 2012.

IHS Automotive forecasts that the volume of vehicles up to 5 years old will increase by 32 percent over the next five years while vehicles in the 6- to 11-year-old category will decline by 21 percent. Because of improved quality and consumers’ holding their cars and light trucks longer, vehicles 12-plus years old continue to grow and will increase by 15 percent by 2019.

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