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Odometers reach record highs with potential for aftermarket product growth

Downturn in 2020 vehicle sales has pushed the average age and odometer readings of cars and light trucks to record-high levels, leading to likely higher aftermarket product volume

Fort Wayne, Ind.—The average age of cars and light trucks is increasing across the U.S., along with the mileage on their odometers. At mid-year 2019, the typical light vehicle in the U.S. averaged approximately 22,000 more odometer miles than 10 years earlier (2009). The downturn in 2020 vehicle sales has pushed the average age and odometer readings of cars and light trucks to record-high levels, according to a new report by Lang Marketing.

“This is significant for aftermarket product growth since older vehicles with greater accumulated mileage consume more aftermarket products per mile than cars and light trucks with lower odometer readings,” the report stated.

A summary of the findings are as follows:

Odometer miles and aftermarket volume

Not all light vehicle miles generate the same aftermarket product volume. Aftermarket product use per mile varies significantly according to a vehicle’s age and, therefore, its accumulated mileage.

For example, a vehicle with 155,000 miles on its odometer will generate more aftermarket product use when driven 12,500 miles in a year than a vehicle with 25,000 accumulated miles.

All light vehicles

The average light vehicle in the U.S. at mid-year 2009 had approximately 101,000 miles on its odometer. Accumulated mileage on the average light vehicle increased to approximately 112,000 by 2014, with odometer miles reaching an estimated 123,000 for the average light vehicle in 2019. Lang Marketing projects that the average light vehicle odometer topped 126,000 during 2020.

Given the large increases in odometer mileage over those years, a typical vehicle in 2019 generated more aftermarket product volume than the typical vehicle in 2009 or 2014.

Cars and light trucks

  • The average car in the U.S. during 2019 had approximately 19,000 more miles on its odometer than the average car ten years earlier.
  • The growth in light truck accumulated mileage was greater, climbing from an estimated 100,000 in 2009 to 125,000 miles by 2019.

Domestic nameplate accumulated mileage

  • Accumulated miles on the average domestic nameplate increased to 121,000 miles during 2014, up from 116,000 mile five years earlier. By 2019, the average domestic nameplate had 127,000 miles on its odometer.
  • Domestic nameplates averaged much higher accumulated miles per vehicle than foreign nameplates in the U.S. during 2009 through 2019.

Foreign nameplates

  • Foreign nameplates averaged approximately 22,000 fewer accumulated miles per vehicle during 2009 than their domestic counterparts.
  • By 2019, foreign nameplates averaged 116,000 miles on their odometers compared to a much higher 127,000 accumulated miles on the average domestic light vehicle in the U.S.

Domestic cars lead in odometer miles

Domestic cars average the highest odometer readings of any light vehicle group in the U.S. During 2009, domestic cars averaged nearly 124,000 odometer miles, much higher than the 101,000 miles accumulated by the average light vehicle.

By 2019, domestic cars pushed their average odometer miles to more than 150,000 miles, significantly higher than 123,000 average accumulated miles for all light vehicles during 2019. This odometer mileage gap widened during 2020.

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