Aging Cars Still on US Roads

By: Glady Reign

With every year model that comes, cars and trucks alike continually improve their durability and performance. The reason for this is the continuous development of high performance parts that will resist wear and tear for a long time. Parts like those used in the engine like the crankshaft, those used in other systems like a are designed to be better, more efficient, and lasting than previously produced components. The result of this is a longer lifespan for an automobile. The constant development of automobile parts in recent years has increased the length of service of a car; this is reflected in the study conducted by R.L. Polk & Co.

The study focused on the age of trucks and cars in the year 2006. The researchers also looked into the number of cars and light trucks scrapped last year. According to the result recently made public, the median age for cars still operating on US roads is 9.2 years. This is the highest ever median age for cars in the United States. This is an improvement of .2 compared to 2005's figure of 9.0 years. The rate of cars scrapped last year though is 4.9 percent which is higher than 2005 when only 4.5 percent of cars were scrapped in the United States. These figures were the result of careful analysis of data which includes more than 230 million vehicles.

For trucks, the median age was found out to be 6.9 years. This is an improvement over 2005's figures at 6.8 years. For light trucks, the median age also increases from 2005's 6.6 years to 2006's 6.8 years. One of the cited reasons why cars last longer than trucks is that there is a wide variety of light trucks and sports utility vehicles made available in the market in the past five years. But the increase in the median age of trucks and specifically, light trucks means that truck owners use their trucks for considerable longer time before thinking about switching to a car or buying a new truck. Analysts expect that with the steady increase in the median age of trucks, it will be a matter of time before trucks make up the majority of vehicle population in the US.

This assumption though may seem unrealistic since tougher emission standards scheduled to be implemented in the near future could cause increase in the prices of SUVs' and pickups. But with continued effort of car makers to develop ways to reduce emission while keeping the production cost low, the revival of interest on trucks may be on its way. Last year the rate of trucks scrapped was found out to be 5.1 percent. This is significantly higher than 2005's figure of 4 percent. For light trucks, the rate of scrappage last year is up by 1.1 percent from 2005. Last year, 5.2 percent of the light truck population was scrapped compared to only 4.1 percent in 2005.

With regards to the increase of scrappage rate of vehicles last year, Dave Goebel, consultant for Polk's Aftermarket Solutions issued his statement. "Despite the increase in the scrappage rate for 2006, the percentage of light vehicles in use that were 11 years of age and older increased one percentage point over last year to a new all-time high, representing 35.8 percent of the light vehicle population." Goebel also added that the increase in the median age of light vehicles is "evidence that vehicle engineering and durability continues to improve with each new model year." Continuing efforts of car makers to provide durable vehicles, median age can still increase.

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