WYCKOFF, N.J. — The 1.6 percent August mileage surge by all types of vehicles on U.S. roads pushed year-to-date driving growth through the first eight months to 0.4 percent.
Lang Marketing estimates 2010 annual mileage (not officially announced until late February) will struggle to increase 1 percent.
The projected gain in 2010 miles on U.S. roads means total mileage for 2010 will fall below 2004 annual driving. With over 14 million more vehicles in operation during 2010 than six years earlier, 2010 annual mileage for the average car and light truck will be lower than the 2004 peak, but higher than any year since 2006.
Minimum Annual 2010 Mileage Gain
Following the historic 3.4 percent plunge in 2008 mileage by all types of vehicles on U.S. roads, 2009 recorded a modest 0.2 percent driving increase, the smallest annual percentage growth in over a quarter century.
Although 2010 official monthly driving results are available only through August, Lang Marketing projects total mileage growth for the year will struggle to reach 1 percent. Chances are it will not succeed.
September through December driving must be more robust than during any previous four-month period this year for even this modest gain to be achieved. August year-to-date driving rose only 0.4 percent.
Putting 2010 Mileage Into Perspective
While 2010 mileage will be positive from the standpoint that an annual gain will be achieved just two years after the enormous 3.4 percent decline in 2008, the impact of that historic annual mileage drop is still felt.
Total mileage for 2010 will fail to match driving levels in the U.S. recorded six years earlier in 2004. Lang Marketing estimates it will take at least until 2014 to establish a new high in annual U.S. mileage, topping the 3.030 trillion mile 2007 peak.
Diminishing Pace of Annual Mileage Growth
Aside from the 2008 driving plunge, the pace of annual mileage growth slowed dramatically in the new millennium.
Annual mileage climbed at a 2.5 percent average annual rate between 1995 and 2000, slowing to a 1.9 percent yearly gain from 2000 to 2004.
Annual mileage averaged less than 1 percent growth from 2005 to 2007, at 0.7 percent. Following the plunge in 2008 driving, 2009 mileage managed only a miniscule 0.2 percent increase, followed by what Lang projects will be less than a 1.0 percent gain this year.
Fewer Vehicles Will be Driven More
Reflecting the downturn in new vehicle sales, the number of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads will decline during 2010, probably suffering additional reductions in 2011 and 2012.
As a result, even small increases in total driving will result in mileage growth for the typical car and light truck during 2010, which, possibly, will continue over the next two years.
This will reverse a trend of steadily diminishing average car and light truck use (mileage) between 2004 and 2009.
Aftermarket Product Growth
Greater annual use of the average vehicle (miles driven) and the fact that cars and light trucks are steadily increasing in average age are positive factors for aftermarket product growth, particularly replacement parts necessary for vehicle operation.
This report is from “Aftermarket Insight,” a weekly analysis of the automotive aftermarket by Lang Marketing Resources and is used by permission.