Average age of light vehicle on U.S. roads stayed flat at 11.4 in 2013, IHS says

Total light vehicles in operation in the United States reached a record 252.7 million at the end of 2013, up 2 percent from 2012, IHS Automotive says.
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The average age of a light vehicle on the road in the United States remained flat at 11.4 years at the end of 2013, and the total light vehicles in operation reached a record 252.7 million, up 2 percent from 2012, IHS Automotive said today.

The average age of vehicles on the road reached an all-time high at the beginning of 2013, but IHS predicts the average age will remain at 11.4 years through 2015, and then rise to 11.7 years by 2019, the company said in a statement today.

The slower rate of growth in the average age of a light vehicle, compared with the last five years, reflects the rebound of the auto industry and increase in new-vehicle sales.

“This year we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the [average age of vehicles], and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction,” Mark Seng, director of IHS Automotive’s aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice leader, said in the statement. “We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and increasing quality of today’s automobiles.”

From 2004 to 2009, the average age of vehicles rose 5 percent, he said. From 2009 to 2014, which includes the recession years, the average age of vehicles jumped 11 percent. Through 2019, IHS only predicts a 3 percent increase in the average age of vehicles on the road.

New-vehicle registrations also edged past the number of scrapped vehicles by more than 24 percent in 2013 the first time in a decade.

The figures are based on a study of vehicles in operation on Jan. 1, IHS said.

IHS forecasts the volume of vehicles new to five years old will increase 32 percent over the next five years. Vehicles in the 6- to 11-year range are predicted to decline by 21 percent, while those 12 years and older are expected to increase by 15 percent.

“In the recession years, people were holding onto their cars for longer and longer,” Seng said. “We are beginning to see the impact of new vehicle registrations now."

You can reach Nora Naughton at nnaughton@crain.com.


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