Automakers looking for a relatively quick turnaround in the auto market probably aren't going to like a new survey from AutoPacific. The annual survey of over 32,000 consumers gauges public interest in new car buying, and the 2009 survey shows that a lot fewer people are looking for a new car these days.

Back in 2005, only 46% of those queried said they were waiting more than four years to buy a new car, and this year that number rose to 59%; a whopping 13% increase. The survey asks if car buyers are looking to buy in six months to a year, one to two years, two to three years, three to four years, or four or more years, and the numbers are down across the board verses last year. A paltry 1.49% of those surveyed said they were looking to buy in the next year, down 1.05% from last year, and 2.12% as compared to 2005. The number of survey participants looking to buy in the next one to two years has been cut in half to only 5.68%, which doesn't bode well for the short-term future of car sales.

These survey numbers could foreshadow more troubles for the auto industry, and AutoPacific president George Peterson sees this as a long-term issue:
"We'll not be seeing the frequent replacement pattern brought about by strong incentives and financing programs that made it easy and financially reasonable over the last decade for consumers to get into a new car frequently. This may also tell us that consumers will be putting a higher priority on vehicles with a reputation for quality and durability that meets not only their short-term needs, but also their long-term expected needs."
As bad as these numbers look, we're guessing that they're more a reflection of the state of the economy than a long-term assessment of the auto industry, although they could also have something to do with improving vehicle reliability and the increasing commonality of longer warranties. Still, AutoPacific's numbers changed drastically from 2008, meaning many that said they would buy a vehicle in a certain time frame only last year have changed their minds a year later. If the economy picks up, we suspect some will change their minds again. If the nation's financial picture remains mired in a depression, though, sales will continue to be slow. Either way, we've got the feeling that the days of 16-17 million annual new car sales in the U.S. are behind us.

Are you planning on keeping your car longer these days? Take our survey (and check out the official press release and chart) after the jump, then drop your fellow reader a line in 'Comments.'

[Source: AutoPacific | Image: George Marks/Getty]


Are you planning to keep your current car longer than you were a year ago?
Yes, the economy is killing me605 (25.1%)
Yes, but my plans have nothing to do with the economy1378 (57.1%)
No432 (17.9%)


PRESS RELEASE:

Americans Keeping Their Cars Longer

TUSTIN, Calif. (July 14, 2009) - An annual survey of new vehicle buyers shows a significant increase in the number of people planning to hold onto their cars and trucks. In 2005, just over 46 percent of new car acquirers indicated they would not be shopping for a new vehicle for four years or more; in the just completed survey that number has risen to about 59 percent - an increase of almost 13 percent. At the same time, the number of people intending to replace their vehicle within the next 2 years has fallen.

In April, automotive research firm AutoPacific conducted a national Internet survey which revealed that the general public was very hesitant to invest in a new vehicle; with 72% of those surveyed saying it would be more than a year before they would be in the market to buy a new car. That finding supports other surveys which indicate that the public is wary about the current condition of the American automobile industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. It also confirms that not only are consumers wary, but those that did make the investment intend to hold on to their vehicles longer.

"Rapid replacers don't seem to be changing their pattern, but people who previously bought a new car every one or two years have significantly scaled back their purchasing, and those who before bought every three to four years are now waiting at least an additional year," said George Peterson, president of Tustin, California-based AutoPacific. "We'll not be seeing the frequent replacement pattern brought about by strong incentives and financing programs that made it easy and financially reasonable over the last decade for consumers to get into a new car frequently. This may also tell us that consumers will be putting a higher priority on vehicles with a reputation for quality and durability that meets not only their short-term needs, but also their long-term expected needs."



About AutoPacific

AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm, founded in 1986, also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters and its state-of-the-art automotive research facility are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information can be found on AutoPacific's websites: http://www.autopacific.com and http://news.vehiclevoice.com.