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Age of U.S. light vehicles to remain high and steady

June 9, 2014

New analysis conducted by research firm IHS Automotive concludes that the combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. remained steady at 11.4 years and should continue increasing through 2019 – especially for light trucks.

Based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation taken back on Jan. 1 of this year, IHS said that average light vehicle age is in line with the trend shift first seen in 2013, in which the combined fleet of cars and light trucks on the road is getting older than ever.

The form’s latest analysis, however, indicates the average age of light trucks has increased in the past year to the same age as passenger cars, both at 11.4 years. This milestone marks the first time this has happened since 1995, when the data was first reported.

“In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road,” said Mark Seng, director of IHS’s aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice, in a statement. “This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction. We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and the increasing quality of today’s automobiles.”

Looking ahead, IHS forecasts that average age of vehicles is likely to remain at 11.4 years through 2015 before rising to 11.5 years by 2017 and 11.7 years by 2019. Seng stressed, though, that this rate of growth is slowing as compared to the last five years due to the substantial increase in new vehicle sales.

Based on the growth of new vehicle registrations in the past few years, IHS is also forecasting a demographic shift in the age “brackets” of light cars and trucks in the U.S.

The firm noted that the volume of vehicles age zero to 5 years n age should increase by 32% over the next five years, while vehicles in the six to 11 year old category will decline by 21%. Because of improved quality and consumers holding their cars and light trucks longer, vehicles 12-plus years old continue to grow and will increase by 15% by 2019, IHS reported.

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