Automotive research firm Polk said that the average age of light vehicles in the U.S. continues to rise and has reached a record high of 10.8 years in 2011. According to Polk’s analysis of national vehicle registration data, the average age of light vehicles has had a steady increase since 1995 but it has been at a faster rate during the last five years. When cars and light trucks are pitted against each other, the cars were found to still be older than light trucks by several months, slightly rising from an average age of 11 years in 2010 to 11.1 years in 2011.
Meanwhile, the light trucks rose from an average of 10.1 years in 2010 to 10.4 years in 2011. Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at Polk, said that the expanding age of light vehicles on U.S. roads and the increasing length of vehicle ownership should offer growth opportunity for the automotive service and parts business. Seng added that there is an increased business opportunity with customers who require vehicle service by the dealer service departments, independent repair facilities, and aftermarket parts suppliers.
However, Polk estimates that the rate of aging will slow down as new vehicle sales recover in 2011 and continue to rise in the next two years. In addition, the National Automobile Dealers Association and several other analysts believe that U.S. light-vehicle sales will increase this year. NADA’s chief economist Paul Taylor had estimated that 2012 new car sales will surpass 13.9 million due to the number of aging vehicles on the road. Other analysts predict that U.S. sales will exceed 14 million units this year. In 2011, U.S. light-vehicle sales increased by 10% to 12.8 million units when compared to 2010 sales.