DETROIT — The average age of light vehicles on U.S. roads keeps rising, reaching a record high of 10.8 years in 2011, according to an analysis released today by automotive research firm R.L. Polk & Co.
Polk's analysis of national vehicle registration data shows the average age of light vehicles has steadily increased since 1995, though more rapidly in the past five years.
Cars remain older than light trucks by a matter of months, increasing slightly from an average age of 11 years in 2010 to 11.1 years last year.
Light trucks increased from an average of 10.1 years old in 2010 to 10.4 years old in 2011.
Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at Polk, said in a statement that the increasing age of light vehicles on U.S. roads and the increasing length of vehicle ownership should provide growth opportunity for the automotive service and parts business.
“Dealer service departments and independent repair facilities, as well as aftermarket parts suppliers, will see increased business opportunity with customers in need of vehicle service,” Mr. Seng said in the statement.
But Polk said it expects the rebound of new vehicle sales in 2011 and over the next couple of years to slow the rate of aging.
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and some analysts also expect U.S. light-vehicle sales to rise this year.
Paul Taylor, NADA's chief economist, predicted this month that new car sales in 2012 would exceed 13.9 million because of the number of aging vehicles on the road. And some other analysts project U.S. sales topping 14 million units this year. In 2011, U.S. light-vehicle sales totaled 12.8 million units, a 10 percent rise over 2010.
“With the age of cars and trucks on the road today at nearly 11 years, consumers can no longer delay making a purchase of a new or newer vehicle,” Mr. Taylor said in a statement.
He cited aging vehicles, affordable credit and aggressive incentives as the key factors for the increase.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.