Polk, the Southfield, Mich., firm that tracks automobile data, says the average age of cars and trucks has reached a new high. The average car on the road is now 11.1 years old, while the average truck is 10.4 years old.
Overall, the average vehicle is now 10.8 years old, compared with 10.6 years in 2011. Polk bases its data on vehicle registrations, rather than sales numbers.
It’s a number that everyone in Detroit and the auto industry elsewhere watches closely, since it helps gauge how many future vehicles might be built.
What’s behind the longevity?
- Automotive quality. A decade ago, the average age of a car was 8.6 years, while the average truck was about six years old. Vehicles are simply lasting longer than they did for our parents or grandparents.
- Another factor is the economy, which was reflected by the slump in auto sales and only a gradual recovery the past few years. People are maintaining and keeping their cars and trucks longer, because they have to.
- A final factor is the length of auto loans. The average car loan is now 63.3 months, or a little over five years. People who pay off their loans often like to keep their vehicles a few years longer.
Polk also has some interesting data on the automotive fleet. There are now 240.5 million vehicles on the road, which is 500,000 more than at this time last year.
The Census Bureau says there are roughly 112 million American households, so that’s just a little over 2.1 vehicles per household.
How old is your car or truck? How much longer do you plan to keep it?