Friday, January 22, 2010

4 Million Fewer Cars on the Road

America's Love Affair with the Automobile May Be Coming to an End
Surprisingly, the U.S. car fleet has started shrinking, and while this is widely associated with the recession, there are other forces at work.

America's century-old love affair with the automobile may be coming to an end. The U.S. fleet has apparently peaked and started to decline. In 2009, the 14 million cars scrapped exceeded the 10 million new cars sold, shrinking the U.S. fleet by 4 million, or nearly 2 percent in one year. While this is widely associated with the recession, it is in fact caused by several converging forces.
Future U.S. fleet size will be determined by the relationship between two trends: new car sales and cars scrapped. Cars scrapped exceeded new car sales in 2009 for the first time since World War II, shrinking the U.S. vehicle fleet from the all-time high of 250 million to 246 million. (See data It now appears that this new trend of scrappage exceeding sales could continue through at least 2020.
Among the trends that are keeping sales well below the annual figure of 15-17 million that prevailed from 1994 through 2007 are market saturation, ongoing urbanization, economic uncertainty, oil insecurity, rising gasoline prices, frustration with traffic congestion, mounting concerns about climate change, and a declining interest in cars among young people.
Market saturation may be the dominant contributor to the peaking of the U.S. fleet. The United States now has 246 million registered motor vehicles and 209 million licensed drivers--nearly 5 vehicles for every 4 drivers. When is enough enough?
read more here


clintpatty said...

It seems like Cash For Clunkers would have had a big impact on this?