Lengthy vehicle ownership is the new normal, even as the economy improves, according to AutoMD.com‘s 2014 Vehicle Mileage Survey*, with nearly 80 percent of consumers comfortable with a 10-plus years or "until it dies" vehicle lifespan. And, the majority who are keeping their vehicle for longer say that an improving economy will not change that, as evidenced by the steady growth in miles they are reporting on their primary vehicles.
And, while the survey does show that, year-over-year, the number of consumers who say they plan to drive their primary vehicle "until it dies" has decreased from a high of 56 percent in recession-impacted 2010 to 35 percent in 2013, more than half still plan to drive their vehicles for 100,000 miles or more, with the vast majority saying that the old two- to three-year ownership model is dead.
"We have been tracking the lengthening ownership cycle since 2010 and what was at first a reaction to a bad economy, has now become a new reality with the majority holding onto cars up to and past the 100,000 mark. The number of consumers saying that more than 10 years is the appropriate time to own a car has not shifted, even as the economy has improved," said Brian Hafer, VP of marketing for AutoMD.com.
"This longer ownership cycle is increasing the likelihood that consumers will empower themselves by researching repair and repair pricing info online. And in good news for repair shops not only does this survey show that these car owners are more likely to choose an independent repair shop for their service needs, but what we are we seeing at AutoMD.com bears this out, with more and more consumers searching for repair shops online."
More Miles Since 2010 Better Economy Not Changing Habit
Car owners continue to rack up the miles. Since 2010 when only 47 percent reported having more than 100,000 on their current vehicles, now more than 64 percent have racked up that many miles … and some racked up even more 33 percent said they now have more than 150,000 miles on their current vehicle.
Forty-six percent say they plan to put 75,000 more miles on their current vehicle than they drove on their previous vehicles. This is a dip since 2011 when 67 percent said they planned to put 75,000 more on their vehicle, but makes sense given that many of these consumers have probably switched their high-mileage vehicle for their next vehicle since 2010. It also is likely that people who reported in 2010 that they planned to add 100,000 additional miles have been adding those miles over the past few years, so have fewer miles to put on now.
Not surprisingly, fewer DIFMers than DIYers plan to put 75,000 more miles on their vehicle: 38 percent versus 51 percent. And, of those planning to hold their vehicles longer than previously, more than 50 percent say the improving economy has no impact on how long they hold their vehicles.
Appropriate Vehicle Lifespan 10-Plus Years
Three in four car owners agree that getting a new vehicle every two to three years is the old model. Nearly 80 percent of consumers believe 10-plus years or "until it dies" is the appropriate lifespan of a vehicle, with only 3 percent saying three to five years is the right length of time to own a vehicle and these numbers have not shifted year-over-year. This echoes third-party data that confirms that the average vehicle on the road is 11.3 years and holding steady to 11.5 in 2018.*
Vigilance with Repair and Economy/Cost Savings Top Reasons for Holding Vehicles: Good News for Repair Shops
When asked the most important reason for holding onto their vehicle for more than 100,000 miles, more consumers cited their vigilance with repairs and service than any other reason, followed by the economy and cost savings. This is good news for repair shops: one in four holding onto their vehicles for longer say that they are more likely to stick to the vehicle’s maintenance schedule and will opt to visit an independent repair shop to save money. And, when all respondents were asked what kind of service center they are most likely to use, the vast majority (71 percent) said independent repair shop.
*The AutoMD.com 2014 Vehicle Mileage Survey was conducted online among 4,398 car owners from July 2013 to February 2014.