New average vehicle age information has surfaced. Data compiled at IHS Automotive shows the average age of a light vehicle on the road in the United States was 11.4 years at the end of 2013. This was the same number posted at the end of 2012. In addition, IHS research shows that the total number of light vehicles in operation at the end of last year was a record 252.7 million, up two percentage points from the final tally in 2012 (specifically, an increase of 3.7 million vehicles).
Experts believe some of these statistics reflect the progressive rebound of the auto industry based on the slower rate of growth in the average vehicle age. IHS believes the average vehicle age will remain steady at 11.4 years through 2015, then slowly rise to about 11.7 years of age by 2019. Their reasoning for this is twofold: first, the quality of vehicles on the road continues to rise; and second, there are still economy factors at play.
Average Vehicle Age Plateauing?
Indeed, history shows we may be hitting a proverbial plateau here. Looking back at the time period from 2004-2009, the average vehicle age rose five percent. Then, from 2009 to 2014 – the time period that includes the recession – that number spiked by 11 percent. Today, IHS is predicting only a three-percent increase in the average age of vehicles through 2019. Meanwhile, the scrappage rate (the number of vehicles scrapped during 2013) went down sharply, to just over 11.5 million – down from the more than 14 million number of 2012.
Interesting IHS Predictions for the Future
Here are some more interesting IHS predictions: The volume of vehicles new to five years old will increase 32 percent over the next five years. Vehicles in the 6-11 year-old age range will decline by 21 percent over the same five-year time period. Vehicles 12 years of age and older will increase by 15 percent.