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Average age of cars on U.S. roads rises to record 10.8 years

January 17, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • The average age of vehicles on the road has climbed to 10.8 years, a record high, according to Polk, an automotive research firm.
The average age of vehicles on the road has climbed to 10.8 years, a record… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

The average age of autos on the road has reached a record high.

The average age of the 240.5 million cars and light trucks being driven in the U.S. rose to 10.8 years last year from 10.4 in the year before, according to R.L. Polk & Co., an automotive market research firm.

The aging fleet is a result of slow new vehicle sales since 2008 and the reluctance of consumers to invest in new cars, analysts said.

Automakers say this has created a latent demand for new vehicles that is just beginning to translate into more robust sales.

Automakers sold 12.8 million vehicles last year, a 10.3% increase from 2010 and the most since 2008. They expect sales to reach about 13.8 million this year.

The improving new vehicle market is expected to continue for several years and slow the aging rate seen in the U.S. fleet over the last three years, said Polk, which analyzes national vehicle registration data.

In the meantime, the number of aged vehicles on the road should be good for some segments of the auto industry.

“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,” said Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at Polk.

The average age of passenger cars rose to 11.1 years from 11 years at the end of June 2011, Polk said.

The average age of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles rose to 10.4 years from 10.1.

Overall, average vehicle age has increased an entire year since 2006 and almost two years since 2000.

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