The average age of light-duty vehicles in U.S. roads has reached 11.5 years, which reached a high point since IHS Automotive began tracking the data, the analytics firm has announced.
The snapshot of vehicles in operation taken earlier this year also showed that light-duty registrations reached 257.9 million, marking an increase of 5.3-million vehicles (2.1 percent) in the past year. New vehicle registrations outpaced scrappage by more than 42 percent.
"As long as we have tracked average age, it has gradually risen over time due to the increasing quality of automobiles," said Mark Seng, global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive.
For the five to six years following the recession, average age increased about five times its traditional rate, which IHS attributed to the nearly 40 percent drop in new vehicle sales in 2008 and 2009.
"We're now seeing average age begin to plateau and return to its traditional rate of increase as consumers have recovered from the great recession and have begun buying new vehicles again," Seng said.
Consumers are holding on to their vehicles longer than ever before, IHS found. As of the first quarter, the average length of ownership for a new vehicle is 77.8 months, an increase of nearly 26 months since the first quarter of 2006. Used-vehicle ownership has reached 63 months, an increase of just over 25 months since the first quarter of 2006.
The average age is likely to reach 11.6 years in 2016 but not reach 11.7 until 2018, according to IHS. The rate of growth is slowing compared to 2008-2013 due to the recovery in new vehicle sales.
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