LONDON — The average age of light-duty vehicles on U.S. roadways increased to 11.6 years this year, and registrations climbed 2.4% from a year ago to 264 million, according to IHS Markit.
Despite the increased popularity of ride-hailing and car sharing, registrations have reached a record level. The increase in 2016 was the highest annual increase since the auto industry began tracking this data.
"Quality of new vehicles continues to be a key driver of the rising average vehicle age over time," said Mark Seng, IHS Markit's director of global automotive aftermarket practice. "The recession created an acceleration beyond its traditional rate due to the nearly 40% drop in new-vehicle sales in 2008 to 2009. In the last couple of years, however, average age is returning to a more traditional rate of increase."
Consumers have been holding onto their vehicles longer than ever. At the end of 2015, the average length of ownership measured a record 79.3 months, more than 1.5 months longer than reported in the previous year. For used vehicles, the average length of ownership is nearly 66 months. Both are significantly longer lengths of ownership since the same measure a decade ago, according to IHS Markit.
When it comes to vehicles being scrapped, those taken out of service during 2015 remained relatively flat compared to 2014, with just over 11 million light vehicles retired, representing about 4.3% of the overall population. This figure is significantly less than the record high of more than 14 million vehicles that were scrapped in 2012.