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AutoMD Survey Indicates That 10+ Year Vehicle Lifespan Is The New Normal

Lengthy vehicle ownership is the new normal, according to AutoMD.com‘s 2014 Vehicle Mileage Survey, where nearly 80 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they are comfortable with a 10-plus years or “until it dies” vehicle lifespan. And, the majority who are keeping their vehicle for longer said that an improving economy won’t change that, as evidenced by the steady growth in miles they are reporting on their primary vehicles.

And, while the survey does show that, year over year, the number of consumers who say they plan to drive their primary vehicle “until it dies” has decreased from a high of 56 percent in recession-impacted 2010 to 35 percent in 2013, over half said they still plan to drive their vehicles for more than 100,000 miles, with the vast majority saying that the old two- to three-year ownership model is dead.

“We have been tracking the lengthening ownership cycle since 2010, and, what was at first a reaction to a bad economy, has now become a new reality—with the majority holding onto cars up to and past the 100k mark,” said Brian Hafer, vice president of marketing for AutoMD. “The number of consumers saying that over 10 years is the appropriate time to own a car has not shifted, even as the economy has improved.”

Car owners continue to rack up the miles. Since 2010, when only 47 percent of survey respondents reported having over 100,000 on their current vehicle, now more than 64 percent have racked up that many miles. And some have racked up even more, as 33 percent said they now have over 150,000 miles on their current vehicle.

AutoMD says 46 percent of respondents said they plan to put 75,000 additional miles on their current vehicle than they drove on their previous vehicles. This is a dip since 2011 when it was 67 percent. But, this makes sense given that many of these consumers have probably switched their high mileage vehicle for their next vehicle since 2010. AutoMD says it’s also likely that people who reported in 2010 that they planned to add 100,000 additional miles have been adding those miles over the past few years and have fewer miles to put on now.

Fewer DIFMers than DIYers plan to put 75,000 additional miles on their vehicle, 38 percent versus 51 percent. And, of those planning to hold their vehicles longer than previously, more than 50 percent said the improving economy has no impact on how long they hold their vehicles.

Interestingly, one in four of respondents holding onto their vehicles for longer said that they are more likely to stick to the vehicle’s maintenance schedule and will opt to visit an independent repair shop to save money. And, when all respondents were asked what kind of service center they are most likely to use, 71 percent said an independent repair shop.

Only 10 percent of those surveyed said they plan to purchase a new vehicle, leaving 90 percent of respondents holding, maintaining and repairing.

The amount consumers spend on vehicle repair has stayed relatively flat from 2010 to 2013 as nearly 50 percent reported spending $500 or more a year, with 16 percent saying they spend more than $1,000.

The AutoMD 2014 Vehicle Mileage Survey was conducted online among 4,398 car owners from July 2013 to Feb 2014.

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