vehicle fleet had hit 10.8 years, the oldest ever. That's bad news for plug-in vehicles.
The fleet has been getting steadily older for a number of reasons. First vehicles today are more durable than ever so they just plain last longer. Bodies are less susceptible to rust and with proper maintenance, it's not hard for engines to run 200,000 miles or more. That's means there is no need to dispose of a perfectly useful car or truck.
The second and more insidious reason is the economy. For the past two decades, real incomes for all but the very wealthy have been either stagnant or declining. That means it's harder for most middle and lower income people to actually buy a new car. Up until 2008, automakers got around this by using subsidized lease programs. The increased durability and reliability of cars meant their value at the end of a lease was higher and they brought in more dollars when re-sold.
Following the financial collapse, increased unemployment, tighter credit, more expensive gas, higher prices on new vehicles and other factors have made it nearly impossible for sales to climb back toward their peak of just a few years ago. Thankfully, that same improved durability and reliability has made it easier for many people to keep their existing cars on the road longer, especially after their loans are paid off.
An aging fleet is actually a multi-edged sword. For consumers it means that buying a new car is something that can more easily be put off for a time. For automakers, it means it's harder to grow sales and employ more workers. For the environment and fuel efficiency, it means older less efficient vehicles stay on the road longer before being retired while at the same time avoiding the life-cycle energy costs of manufacturing, delivering and disposal.
All of this also means that it it going to be extremely difficult for plug-in vehicles to gain any traction in the market place soon. The cost of batteries remains stubbornly high while energy capacity remains low. With less need to replace vehicles and less financial wherewithal to do so, I don't see electric vehicles getting beyond a small niche in the market any time soon.
#cars #automobile #EVs #electricvehicles
Average age of U.S. light vehicles reaches record high, Polk says
DETROIT — The average age of light vehicles on U.S. roads keeps rising, reaching a record high of 10.8 years in 2011, according to an analysis released today by automotive research firm Polk. Polk…
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