An annual survey of new vehicle buyers shows a significant increase in the number of people planning to hold onto their cars and trucks. In 2005, just over 46 percent of new car acquirers indicated they would not be shopping for a new vehicle for four years or more; in the just completed survey that number has risen to about 59 percent-an increase of almost 13 percent. At the same time, the number of people intending to replace their vehicle within the next two years has fallen.
In April, automotive research firm AutoPacific conducted a national Internet survey which revealed that the general public was very hesitant to invest in a new vehicle; with 72 percent of those surveyed saying it would be more than a year before they would be in the market to buy a new car. That finding supports other surveys which indicate that the public is wary about the current condition of the American automobile industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. It also confirms that not only are consumers wary, but those that did make the investment intend to hold on to their vehicles longer.
"Rapid replacers don't seem to be changing their pattern, but people who previously bought a new car every one or two years have significantly scaled back their purchasing, and those who before bought every three to four years are now waiting at least an additional year," said George Peterson, president of Tustin, Calif.-based AutoPacific. "We'll not be seeing the frequent replacement pattern brought about by strong incentives and financing programs that made it easy and financially reasonable over the last decade for consumers to get into a new car frequently. This may also tell us that consumers will be putting a higher priority on vehicles with a reputation for quality and durability that meets not only their short-term needs, but also their long-term expected needs."