Americans are now doing in mass numbers what many people, including yours truly, have been doing for years – driving their cars until they can’t be driven anymore.
R.L. Polk & Co., a consulting firm for the automotive industry, says the median age of cars on American roads hit 11.4 years in January, an all-time high.
In 2007, before the recession hit, the median age was 9.2 years.
Of course, Polk says this is due to the improved quality of motor vehicles on the highways and byways.
One would expect a consulting firm for the automotive industry to say that in order to keep its relationship with its clients well-oiled, so to speak.
This comes at a curious time when U.S. auto sales have risen gradually since 2009. That’s when they hit a 30-year low of 10.4 million sold.
We’ve also been told the American car industry is healthy again after braking at the edge of the fiscal cliff, even though the city of Detroit seems poised to fall over if its creditors are not charitable.
Polk also asserts more and more motorists are trying to stop making those monthly payments as quickly as possible.
Juxtapose that with the fact that more people are financing their cars for 72 months. That means they’ll keep their cars and make payments on their cars for at least six years.
In other words, we hate making monthly car payments, but we’ll keep our old jalopies as long as we can so we don’t have to make more payments on new cars after the old ones are paid for in full.
And Polk predicts the percentage of cars that are 12 years old or older will rise in the next five years.
That’s bad news for new car dealers and junkyard owners, but great news for auto parts stores and mechanics.
In a way, it’s also bad news for the makers of electric cars.
Chevrolet recently announced the price of its Volt will be about $5,000 lower in 2014.
That brings the sticker price down to $34,995, but I don’t think that’s far enough.
Americans are pragmatic people. As much as they’d like to save the environment, they’re not going to blow a hole in their budget for food, clothing, shelter and the kids’ education to do so.
Nissan’s LEAF is down to $29,650, the Prius is at about $25,000, and the Prius C, a compact car, is at around $19,000.
Get the price of the average electric car down to around where the Prius C is and maybe more Americans like me will be able to afford driving cleaner vehicles.
Until then, I’ll continue to drive the most fuel-efficient, mechanically and electronically dependable car I can for as long as I can.
I don’t care what it looks like as long as it’s not hideous. I just want to get from point A to point B safely and in comfort.
We shouldn’t have to take out second mortgages in order to accomplish those goals.