SOUTHFIELD, Mich.The average age of all light vehicles on U.S. roads now stands at a record high of 11.4 years, according to R.L. Polk & Co., based on its review of more than 247 million U.S. car and light truck registrations earlier this year.
For passenger cars, the average age also hit a record high at 11.4 years, while the average age of light trucks increased to a record 11.3 years. Polk said it expects this trend to continue while a shift in the fleet of vehicles in operation (VIO) is under way.
The volume of 6- to 11-year-old vehicles is declining while vehicles older than 12 years are on the rise, according to Polk.
These are interesting times for the automotive aftermarket, said Mark Seng, vice president of Polk's aftermarket practice. 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 the rebound in new vehicle registrations, Polk is forecasting the total VIO to grow 5 percent to more than 260 million vehicles by 2018.
During the past five years, the 6- to 11-year-old segment grew marginally, while vehicles older than 12 years surged more than 20 percent.
However, by 2018, Polk predicts newer vehicles (under 5 years old) will enjoy a surge in numbers, while the 6- to 11-year-old vehicle segment will shrink more than 20 percent and the 12-year-old-plus segment will only grow about half the rate of the prior five-year period.