Consumers are keeping their automobiles for longer periods than ever before, according to a study performed by the survey gurus at R. L. Polk & Co. For anyone keeping track of such things, this news comes as little surprise – average length of ownership has been steadily increasing at an average rate of 3.7 percent annually.

Since the global economic meltdown and the devastating effect it had on the world's automakers in 2008, that average length of ownership has increased dramatically at a clip of more than 14 percent. The hard data shows that consumers are keeping their machines for 63.9 months on average, up 4.5 months from the same time last year.

Polk comes to a couple of conclusions from this data. First, the automotive aftermarket stands to benefit from older vehicles remaining on the road. Second, automakers have a big opportunity to get people buying more new cars to replace the rapidly aging vehicles currently in their driveways. Want more? Click past the break for the official press release.

[Source: R. L. Polk & Co. | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]
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Consumers Continuing to Hold onto Vehicles Longer, According to Polk

Midyear analysis shows increasing length of ownership of new vehicles; bodes well for automotive aftermarket

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (Nov. 3, 2010) – The average length of ownership of new vehicles continues to increase, according to a recent analysis from Polk. Consumers are now holding onto a new vehicle, on average, for 63.9 months based on second quarter 2010 data, up 4.5 months from the same time last year, according to Polk.

Length of ownership has risen each quarter since the end of 2008 (see table A) and serves as an indicator of business opportunities available to the automotive aftermarket, based on the increasing numbers of older vehicles in operation that may need service or parts, and an increasing number of vehicles on the road falling out of warranty.

It also highlights opportunities for manufacturers to consider targeting those consumers that are hanging on to older vehicles as potential customers for new vehicle purchases.

According to Polk, the average length of new vehicle ownership increased an average of 3.7 percent annually prior to the economic and auto industry meltdown in late 2008. Since that time, average length of ownership of new vehicles has increased more than 14 percent, with no signs of slowing down.

"Ownership trends are something our customers watch very closely," said Eric Papacek, Polk solutions consultant. "Armed with insightful data on these trends, aftermarket and retail customers are able to appropriately plan for levels of service work and parts that may be required based on the increased age of vehicles on the road," he continued.

When considering registrations for used models, average length of ownership also is at a record high -- 46.1 months -- up from 43.8 months from the same period in 2009. New and used vehicles combined have an average length of ownership of 52.2 months based on second quarter analysis, according to Polk.

About Polk
Polk is the premier provider of automotive information and marketing solutions. We collect and interpret global data, and provide extensive automotive business expertise to help customers understand their market position, identify trends, build brand loyalty, conquest new business and gain a competitive advantage. We help automotive manufacturers and dealers, automotive aftermarket companies, finance and insurance companies, advertising agencies, media companies, consulting organizations, government agencies and market research firms make good business decisions. A privately held global firm, Polk is based in Southfield, Michigan with operations in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States

Table A. Average Months of Vehicle Ownership, Q1 2008 to Q2 2010