December 3, 2007

Vehicle survival rates increasing dramatically, analyst says

Richmond Hill, Ontario – Over 50 per cent of the vehicles bought 15 years ago are still on the road today, almost double the survival rate from only seven years ago, says industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers. About seven million vehicles on the road in Canada are 10 years or older, or about 40 per cent of all light vehicles registered.

DesRosiers attributes this to a number of factors, including the widespread adoption of electroplate-galvanized sheet metal, tighter manufacturing tolerances, superior lubricants and fuel injection. “This technological cocktail has resulted in an explosion of older vehicles on the road,” he said.

Luxury vehicles have the highest rates. Among mainstream manufacturers, imports have a higher survival rate than domestic nameplates, with 15-year-old cars still on the road in 2006 at a level of 53.9 per cent for imports and 43.7 per cent for domestics. “GM, Ford and Chrysler products are still subject to shorter life spans than their import-nameplate counterparts, but they too have shown impressive longevity growth,” DesRosiers said. “Whereas just 35.2 per cent of fifteen-year-old GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles were still registered in 2000, 43.7 per cent remained registered in 2006. While auto analysts like me have occasionally derided the Detroit-based OEMs for a slew of product issues, there is no denying the fact that the vehicles we picked on in the early 1990s were quantitatively better cars than their predecessors.”

DesRosiers said that the extension of average vehicle lifespans is not entirely beneficial, however. “Many things are negatively affected by this trend, not the least of which is the quality of our air. Older vehicles are the least fuel-efficient and highest polluting users of the road. A current model-year vehicle emits 98 per cent less toxins into the air than a vehicle bought 15 years ago. So keeping these old smokers on the road is definitely not good for the environment. Given that we are only now witnessing the first of the double-galvanized, electronically fuel injected cars entering the fifteen-year-plus age segment, we are poised to see growth in the number of very old cars remaining on the road. Indeed, this represents a much bigger challenge for green-concerned legislators than the issues related to getting the OEMs to deliver a greener vehicle to the new-vehicle buyer.”

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