Nice story, Chuck. I've seen this play out in my own life. I used to trade my cars in when they started closing in on 100,000 miles. Now I regularly drive them past 150,000. Cars are getting better.
When I was a kid, my dad bought a new car every three years. He kept the old one for my mom to do errands. So the oldest our cars ever got were three years and six years. Back then, that six-year-old car seemed ancient. The times have certainly changed.
Us too, we regularly hit better than 150K and as much as 250K a couple of times before giving the cars to other family members. Here in Chicago, keeping the car in a garage is key to longevity, but as far as the engine goes, the manufacturers have done an excellent job of engineering a drivetrain that lasts so long.
I think part of the upgrades, back in the day, was that the designs changed more frequently.
There is a big difference between a '68 Mustang and a '74 Mustang. The body styling in 2008 and 2013 aren't radically different.
I think we'll see a small surge in car sales soon. Part of the aging is that people can't afford to buy a new car or they're being cautious. The other key trend is that younger people (teens and 20's) aren't interested in owning cars in the same way that older generations were.
I'm on my third 1997 Chevy Lumina in last few years. Nothing wrong with the first two - traded one for a different car and gave the other away - they are still driving it. Love my current one - easy to work on, only normal wear and tear maintenance, highly rated for safety, seats six with a huge trunk.
All good data points supporting the conclusion – However, having only been taking data since 1998 does not give a much more than an anecdotal conclusion – Certainly not strong enough to warrant any hard strategy decision from an Auto-Maker, for example.
That is good to know! When I lived in the United States my cars were never more than five-seven years old, but here in Portugal I drive a car that's 14 years old and still going. (It's a VW Transporter, which can go for a long time with the right maintenance.) So I am not alone! We all drive pretty old cars around where I live, though. Which is why it was so funny when Porsche recently took over a local beach to do a car showcase and for a week there were about 100 Porsches driving around the roads--the fanciest cars these parts have ever seen. :)
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