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Median age up for U.S. cars, trucks: Polk

November 23, 2010
Americans are keeping older vehicles on the road for longer periods, the R.L. Polk & Co. reported in February, with the median age of cars and light trucks in operation increasing for the first time since 1996. The median age of light trucks increased to 6.6 years in 2002, an 8 percent jump over 2001 and the largest single year increase since Polk first tracked the statistic for trucks in 1993. The median age of cars increased more than 4 percent, to 8.4 years, the fourth largest one-year increase in 33 years. "The 2002 median car age of 8.4 years represents the highest median age since we began tracking the statistic in 1970," said Polk's Mike Gingell. "The median age for light trucks is still significantly lower than cars due to the recent boom in new-truck registrations over the last few years." Eric Papacek of Polk pointed to advances in vehicle quality and engine technology that have enabled Americans to keep their vehicles on the roads longer. "Better overall quality is apparent throughout the passenger car segment- from luxury cars to economy cars," Papacek said. "This represents a double-edged sword for auto manufacturers in that better cars allow consumers to stay out of the market for longer periods, especially in response to a soft economy."