Report: Average Age of Light Vehicles in U.S. Rises to 11.6 Years

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The average age of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. has reached 11.6 years, says new analysis from industry experts at IHS Markit, a provider of business information and analysis for the global automotive industry with offices in Southfield.

Registrations for light vehicles in operation, including cars and light trucks in the U.S., also reached a record level of more than 264 million — an increase of more than 2.4 percent since last year. This represents the highest annual increase the auto industry has seen in the U.S. since it began tracking vehicles in operation growth – breaking the record of 2.1 percent growth set in 2015.

“Quality of new vehicles continues to be a key driver of the rising average vehicle age over time,” says Mark Seng, director of global automotive aftermarket practice at IHS Markit. “The recession created an acceleration beyond its traditional rate due to the nearly 40 percent drop in new vehicle sales in 2008-2009. In the last couple of years, however, average age is returning to a more traditional rate of increase.”

According to IHS Markit, as of the end of 2015, the average length of new vehicle ownership measured just over 79 months, more than 1.5 months longer than reported in the previous year. For used vehicles, it is nearly 66 months.

Officials with the company say that vehicles taken out of service during 2015 remained relatively flat compared to 2014, with just over 11 million light vehicles retired out of the fleet, representing about 4.3 percent of the overall population.

According to IHS Markit, the shifting dynamic of the age of vehicles in operation indicates the volumes of vehicles in the new to five years-old category will grow 16 percent by 2021, while vehicles in the six to 11 year-old range will grow just 5 percent, and vehicles that are 12-plus years old will grow 10 percent.

Vehicles 16 years and older expected to grow 30 percent from 62 million units today to 81 million units in 2021. IHS Markit research also shows that more than 20 million vehicles on the road in 2021 will be more than 25 years old.

IHS Markit provides market-wide insight, expertise, and advanced planning solutions. Headquartered in London, the company’s automotive office is part of IHS Markit’s information and analytics team that includes more than 15,000 colleagues in 150 countries, covering energy, chemical, aerospace and defense, maritime, financial, technology, media, and telecommunications.

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