If it seems like there are a lot of old Fords, Chevys, Hondas, and Toyotas on the roads today, the fact is that there are. The average age of American vehicles is now 11 years old, according to new research from R. L. Polk. Polk also says that this figure, which is actually 10.8 years, is an all-time record for vehicle age.
How it breaks out
Passenger cars showed a slight increase in age since 2010, from 11 years to 11.1 years (at the end of June 2011). So, that would mean 2000 model year cars like the 2000 Chevy Impala or Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry and the like. Light trucks, including pickup trucks and SUVs showed more of a gain during the same timeframe, from 10.1 to 10.4 years. Maybe that’s why there are a growing number of 2001 Ford Explorers, Chevy Tahoes and GMC Suburbans still on the road. Overall, the average age of the American vehicle has been moving steadily upward since 1995 when it was 8.4 years, but it’s been “quickly” increasing over the past five years.
What’s the reason for the aging of the American vehicle population? Polk’s data points to weak sales in 2008 and 2009. While sales have improved since that two-year dip, especially the strong rebound in sales last year, it hasn’t been in sufficient numbers to correct the situation.
What the future holds
While predicting the future is always an iffy proposition, two things seem reasonably possible, given the Polk findings. One, there’s good business potential for dealer service facilities and independent repair shops, as well as aftermarket parts suppliers, as consumers seek to extend the life of their vehicle with needed repairs. Two, the popularity of crossovers and SUVs shows no signs of abating, and may well help end, or at least slow down, the aging rate of American vehicles seen in the market over the past three years.
For consumers in the market to replace the old family sedan with a more fuel-efficient model, or need the passenger and cargo space and utility of a crossover, there are many new or redesigned models to check out. These include the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion and Ford Escape, the all-new 2012 Prius C, the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry and 2012 Honda Pilot, the all-new 2013 Mazda CX-5, and more.
This article originally appeared in Family Car Guide.