Automobiles in use are older than ever

Trends in the automotive industry tend to make their way into the marine industry eventually, so a recent study regarding the average age of the automotive fleet in the U.S. had me intrigued.

According to a recent survey by IHS Automotive, the average age of a U.S. car on the road is 11.5 years. This means cars on the road are now older than ever.

Buyers now keep new cars for an average 77.8 months--26 months longer than they did in 2006.

Used-car buyers keep their purchases an average 63 months, a 25-month increase.

However, new car sales are still on the rise. The difference is that these consumers likely have not purchased a new car in a long time.

The research points to several different reasons: better reliability in passenger cars, greater electric-car adoption, a lower rate of car crashes taking fewer automobiles off the road or aftereffects of the Great Recession.

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This doesn’t tell us much about how many people are buying cars for the first time, but it does tell us that those who have invested in purchasing a car are holding onto those investments for longer before purchasing again.

We are seeing similar data in our own industry. As of 2012, the average age of a powerboat was 21 years, compared to 15 years in 1997. At the time, Peter Houseworth, director of client services at Info-Link, said this was because boats are being built with higher-quality materials that are better able to withstand the impact of use, weather and aging.

“The base boat has an almost indefinite life if it’s cared for properly," Houseworth said. “Even if they’re in storage, they still don’t degrade as long as they’re stored properly.”

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