The average age of light vehicles in the U.S. has risen once again as consumers continue to hold onto vehicles.
IHS Markit said today that the average age of light vehicles is now 11.6 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation on Jan. 1, 2016, the most recent analysis. That’s up from 11.5 years the previous year.
Registrations for light vehicles in operation in the U.S. hit a record 264 million, an increase of more than 6.2 million, or 2.4 percent.
Vehicle quality was pegged as the main reason for the increase.
“Quality of new vehicles continues to be a key driver of the rising average vehicle age over time,” Mark Seng, global automotive aftermarket practice director at IHS Markit, said in a statement.
IHS began tracking the average age of vehicles in 2002. In that first year, the average age was 9.6 years.
Not only are vehicles getting older, consumers are keeping their vehicles for longer, too, IHS said. As of the end of 2015, the average length of ownership was 79.3 months -- a record -- up 1.5 months from the previous year.
Consumers keep used vehicles for about 66 months, IHS said.
About 11 million light vehicles were scrapped during 2015, or about 4.3 percent of the overall population, according to IHS.
IHS forecasts that the volume of vehicles in the new- to 5-years-old category will grow 16 percent by 2021, while vehicles in the 6- to 11-year-old range will grow 5 percent, and vehicles that are 12 or more years old will grow 10 percent.
The market research company said the oldest vehicles on the road are growing the fastest. Vehicles 16 years and older are expected to grow 30 percent from 62 million units today to 81 million in 2021.
IHS research also showed that there will be more than 20 million vehicles on the road in 2021that will be more than 25 years old.
As the average age of vehicles increases, so too does the business opportunity for repair and service shops.
“Increasing numbers of vehicles on the road builds a new business pipeline for the aftermarket,” said Seng. “A larger fleet means more vehicles that will need repair work and service in the future.”