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Polk Finds Average Age of Light Vehicles Continues to Rise

Aging fleet creates new challenges for Aftermarket; Polk forecasts more than 260 million light vehicles in operation by 2018

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (August 6, 2013) – The U.S. vehicle fleet population is changing, a shift that gives way to significant opportunities for certain automotive aftermarket segments according to Polk, the global automotive market intelligence firm recently acquired by IHS (NYSE: IHS).

As part of its analysis, Polk reports the average age of all light vehicles on the road now stands at a record high of 11.4 years, based on review of over 247-million U.S. car and light truck registrations earlier this year. For passenger cars, average age also met a record high at 11.4 years, while the average age of light trucks also increased to a record 11.3 years. Polk expects this trend to continue, while a shift in the fleet of vehicles in operation (VIO) is underway.

Average Age of Passenger Cars and Light Trucks
Year Passenger Cars Light Trucks Total Light Vehicles
2002 9.8 9.4 9.6
2003 9.9 9.5 9.7
2004 10.0 9.5 9.8
2005 10.1 9.5 9.8
2006 10.2 9.5 9.9
2007 10.3 9.6 10.0
2008 10.4 9.8 10.1
2009 10.5 10.1 10.3
2010 10.8 10.5 10.6
2011 11.1 10.8 10.9
2012 11.3 11.1 11.2
2013 11.4 11.3 11.4

Source: Polk. Figures are based on a snapshot of vehicle registrations taken Jan. 1 each year.

Aging Fleet Volumes Shifting

As part of its most recent analysis and the growth of vehicle registrations in the past few years, Polk found that the volume of 6-11 year old vehicles is declining, while the group of vehicles older than 12 years is on the rise. This trend supports the increase in average age and creates a potential strategic shift in the aftermarket as business owners consider options for growth and opportunity.

"These are interesting times for the automotive aftermarket," said Mark Seng, vice president of Polk’s aftermarket practice. "Customers from independent and chain repair shops should be paying close attention to their business plans and making concerted efforts to retain business among the do-it- for-me (DIFM) audience, while retailers have a unique and growing opportunity with potential consumers wrenching on their own vehicles."

New Forecast Outlines 2018 Expectations

Polk recently developed a new forecast for vehicles in operation (VIO) through 2018, the first of its kind in the industry. With the rebound in new vehicle registrations, Polk is forecasting the total VIO to grow five percent to more than 260 million vehicles by 2018.

During the past five years, with the significant decline in new vehicle registrations, the market has seen both segments of the aftermarket enjoy strong growth potential. During that time period, the 6-11 year old segment grew marginally and vehicles more than 12 years old increased by more than 20 percent. However, Polk expects the 6-11 year old vehicle segment to shrink by more than 20 percent and the 12+ year old segment to grow at a rate almost half of the prior five-year period.

Age of Vehicles in Operation 5 year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) Forecast growth/decline (percent) by 2018
0-5 years 7.1% 41.0%
6-11 years (4.8%) (21.9%)
12+ years 2.2% 11.6%

Armed with this new data and unique analysis, Polk is helping aftermarket providers better understand market conditions, identify growth opportunities and target business plans for the future, recognizing the changing fleet mix will provide new opportunities for all segments of the aftermarket, including components suppliers, retailers, dealers and independent repair shops.

About IHS

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today's business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs approximately 8,000 people in 31 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

IHS is a registered trademark of IHS Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners. © 2014 IHS Inc. All rights reserved.

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