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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 me 605 (25.1%)
Yes, but my plans have nothing to do with the economy 1378 (57.1%)
No 432 (17.9%)


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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yes trying to keep exposure to risk down, in case I move abroad in the next two years. Don't want to buy a new car and have to sell it at a huge loss. Would rather just keep the old one on the road for a couple more years.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This really shouldn't be much of a surprise. Even 10-15 years ago, keeping a car for 100K miles was an achievement. These days, cars are expected to hit 100K without any significant sign of wear, be it engine, paint, interior, whatever. With the increase in quality, why wouldn't people keep them longer (in years)?
        • 6 Years Ago
        You just nailed the auto industry's problem. They finally give us cars that will last (from just about all auto makers), but still want us to buy a new one every 3 years.

        When we wise up and keep them longer because they'll actually last 8-10 years....they're in a world of hurt. They can't handle that consistent 10-25% drop in sales due to retention on top of people not buying because they can't secure funding, or are downsizing to less profitable models (read: non-SUVs).
      • 6 Years Ago
      My '07 came with a 10yr/100k warranty and I'm going to use every last one. Kept my SE-R 11 years. Cars are too reliable (many of them anyhow) now to buy like mobile phones. That said, I hope people don't keep them too long because I love buying nice used cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would like to keep my car for longer, but it's an Audi Allroad so I don't see it actually lasting more than 80k (it's on its third transmission already and not yet hit 40k). Oh well.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Enjoyed reading the car stories here. Thanks for sharing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Am I planning to keep my car longer than I was a year ago? Well, no. Quite the opposite. A year ago I was planning on keeping my car until early 2011. But with the Cash for Clunkers deal out there, along with good deals to be had, I moved my timetable up to now.

      I guess I'm the exception.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm 43 my car is a 90 Celica GTS that I've owned for 15 years. Just noticed that the floor boards have rusted out, at this point I can afford new sheet metal thats about it.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Great car!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bought my Wrangler Unlimited new back in 06 right before the JKs came out. I plan on keeping it until one of us is irreparably wrecked, and then having a viking funeral in it :). Hopefully since I'm 24 that'll be a good long while, I'd like to end up with a story like that lady with the 64 Mercury that was on here a couple of weeks ago.
        • 6 Years Ago
        nice ride, thats a stupid question, this is an enthusiast site, we dont treat cars like appliances we replace every X years.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I bought an Acura TL brand new back in 2005. I am still paying on it. It still runs and drives perfectly. It looks great and still gets complements. I have a little over a year left on my payments and I have no plans on buying a new car any time soon. I can say that I will probably be back in the market sometime around 2014. 10 years is about right for an Acura.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm definitely enjoying reading everyone's stories. I currently have a 2001 BMW 740i Sports with 160,000km. It runs well when it's running. I got it used in 2005 and have had nothing but problems. It's one of the best cars I've ever driven..which might not say much considering there are lots of folks here with Porsche boxters, Corvettes etc. The 740i really is a nicely balanced, powerful cruiser. The car still looks great too. I had traded in a 1999 Chrysler Concorde LXi which had 160,000km. That car was bulletproof. Yes there were some squeaks and rattles, but the car was extremely practical (the trunk was able to fit 4 snowboards sideways!) and very smooth and quiet on the highway. Great fuel economy from the 3.2l as well. I should have kept it for when the BMW broke down.
        • 6 Years Ago
        From the comments here it seems that Chrysler/Dodge cars of the 90's make good used/beater cars. One of the reasons we picked up a leftover 2003 Durango was because it was only slightly revised from when they introduced it 1998, before Daimler took over. Even the 4.7 engine debuted in 1999 in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, so all development was done pre-Daimler.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chevy Volt isn't available for sale yet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bought a 1995 3000GT SL earlier this year after wrecking my Jeep Wrangler. I plan to keep this car until someone invents an affordable, good-looking RWD coupe with paddle shifters, preferably a hybrid. I'll see if this car will last me 60k miles (it's at 140k now). Hopefully the Toyobaru will be out several years from now, or I'll buy a used V6 Genesis Coupe.
      • 6 Years Ago
      1998 Mercedes C43 AMG and 2004 Cadillac SRX. I couldn't find two cheaper cars to maintain...j/k
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've just decided new cars arn't worth it. I'm selling my 07 VW rabbit that I bought new and buying a 92 Jetta instead. Sure the Jetta wont' be as good, but not having car payments will be fantastic, and I'll have more than enough extra money if the car breaks down.
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