The average age of cars and light trucks currently in operation in the United States has increased to 10.8 years, according to the Southfield, MI-based automotive market intelligence firm Polk. Passenger cars have shown a modest increase in age since 2010, going from 11 years to just 11.1 years at the end of June 2011. Light trucks, including pickups and SUVs, have shown a more sizeable gain over the same time span, going from 10.1 years to 10.4 years.
The slowdown of the aging of passenger cars directly correlates to the low sales volumes and the mix of car and truck sales in the U.S. market in 2008 and 2009 — a time in which more trucks than cars were registered. While more trucks were sold in the same timeframe, they showed a faster aging rate.
Polk expects this may change in the coming years as CUV and small SUV populations in the U.S. market have risen in 2010 and 2011 due to their continued success in the market. Also, the rebound in new vehicle sales in 2011 and for the next couple of years are likely to slow down the aging rate seen over the past three years.
“The increasing age of the vehicle fleet, together with the increasing length of ownership, offers significant business growth opportunity for the automotive aftermarket,” said Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader. “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.”