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Number of cars on roads highest since recession

Stuck in traffic a lot? Booming new vehicle sales combined with people keeping older cars longer could be reasons.

By Douglas Newcomb Nov 5, 2013 10:45AM

Photo by Flikr user johnrush.While U.S. drivers saw a reduction in traffic as recently as 2011 due to the recession, gridlock could get worse with more cars now on the road. According to Experian Automotive, the number of cars and light trucks in operation reached 247.9 million in the second quarter of 2013. That’s the highest point since the recession kicked off in the second quarter of 2008.


Experian’s recent Vehicles in Operation market analysis showed that surging new vehicle sales combined with people keeping their older vehicles longer — or what the automotive data company calls “lower scrappage rates” — have resulted in this resurgence. Experian’s analysis also showed that the average age of vehicles on the road was 10.9 years in the second quarter of 2013, almost a full year older than was recorded in the second quarter of 2009.


Experian found that General Motors had the highest share of VIO at 26.6 percent, followed by Ford (18.9 percent), Toyota (12.6 percent) and Chrysler (12.5 percent). Its analysis also revealed that imports had a 51.8 percent share of total new registrations in the first half of 2013, down from 52.7 percent from a year ago.


Experian's analysis also indicated that full-size pickup trucks were the top vehicle segment on the road in the period analyzed, at 14.9 percent of total VIO. Next were midsize cars (11.9 percent) and small economy cars (9.1 percent). And new vehicle sales varied by region.


In the South and Midwest, full-size pickup trucks were the top new vehicle segment in each region, at 14.1 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively. In the West, small economy cars (12.7 percent) topped the fresh-off-the-lot list, while entry-level crossovers were the top selling segment (14 percent) in the Northeast.


As evidence of how the existing passenger vehicle fleet is increasingly aging, Experian noted that in Q2 2013 more than half (50.9 percent) of VIO were between model years 2000 and 2008. While all of the mix of cars on the road may create more traffic, a larger number of older vehicles on the road also create opportunities for mechanics.


“During the recession new vehicle sales dropped, causing challenges for aftermarket companies,” Marty Miller, senior manager for Experian Automotive, said in a statement. “However, the recent uptick in new vehicle sales, combined with more aging vehicles on the road, means these challenges will only be in the short term..”


[Source: Experian]


Nov 7, 2013 7:44AM
Older, newer?  Cars today are so much better mechanically and require so much less maintenance than cars of the 50's, 60's, 70's and so forth. We drive a 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis and a 2010 Lincoln MKZ. These autos are as good or bad as any other car on the road of same age with proper care. We have no intention of trading up in the foreseeable future as it makes no sense. The Mercury was paid off in 2009 and the Lincoln has 18 months to go. Other than normal maintenance these vehicles have been trouble free.
Nov 6, 2013 9:51AM
Of course their are more cars then ever, we have more illegal aliens driving pieces of junk that pollute the air and are dangerous. By the way we pay for all of that, most don't have insurance, tags, license. Most have bald tires and no brakes, we see hit and run accidents here all the time by illegals, don't let one tail gate you they like to do that so they can draft and save money on fuel.
Nov 7, 2013 9:26AM

More cars, more traffic, more accidents.....makes sense.


Let's see what other product(s) when introduced into society, unchecked, will result in an increase of the irresponsible use and/or accidents.....


Hint: You may not even need a license/permit proving you can operate safely.


We're walking....We're walking.....We're walking.......



Nov 16, 2013 8:10PM

Sure we're driving more. People are forced to work longer before they can retire and stop driving to work.

 People who are looking for work generally drive more than people with regular jobs.


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