Total light vehicles in operation (VIO) in the U.S. has reached a record level of more than 252,700,000 -- an increase of more than 3.7 million (1.5 percent) since last year, said the IHS Automotive firm's analysis from July 2013.

The combined average age of all passenger vehicles on the road in the U.S. remained steady at 11.4 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation taken Jan. 1 of this year, noted IHS. 

“In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road,” said Mark Seng, director, aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive. “This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction. We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and the increasing quality of today’s automobiles."

 In addition, new vehicle registrations outpaced scrappage by more than 24 percent for the first time in a decade.

The number of vehicles scrapped in 2013 was significantly fewer than in previous years, with just over 11.5 million vehicles scrapped during the 12-month timeframe analyzed by IHS Automotive. In comparison, a record high of more than 14 million vehicles were scrapped in 2012. This while VIO is up 1.5 percent, a rate the auto industry hasn’t seen in the U.S. since 2004-2005.

Dynamics of Fleet Age and Mix

With the shift in ownership comes shift in the age of vehicles within segments of the overall fleet, which is important to business planners in the aftermarket and service industries so they can manage inventories of parts required and plan for sales and service activity accordingly.

Based on the growth of new vehicle registrations in the past few years as the U.S. auto industry has rebounded, IHS Automotive forecasts that the volume of vehicles 0-5 years old will increase by 32 percent over the next five years while vehicles in the 6-11 year old category will decline by 21 percent. Because of improved quality and consumers holding their cars and light trucks longer, vehicles 12-plus years old continue to grow and will increase by 15 percent by 2019.

 How about your car?  Have you ever reached 11 years or more, with any vehicle you've owned?