"What's the average age of our cars?"

Armed with data from the SMMT and CAP, Mike Rutherford's been looking into our car-buying habits

If you have a set of vehicle keys about your person, plus a registered car that fits snugly around them, then congratulations, you're one in 30 million. You belong to an inclusive club which the majority of adults in the UK have voluntarily joined - thanks to their proud status as vehicle owners, renters, leasers or company car users.

But what models do we tend to drive, how often do we change them, and what's the average age of our cars? Currently, almost 5m of us have ended up with Volkswagen Group products (predominantly VWs and Audis, but also Skodas, SEATs and the occasional Bentley or Lamborghini). Nearer 4m are behind the wheel of Fords, while drivers of Vauxhalls hover around the 3.5m mark. BMWs, plus the German firm's MINIs, have been adopted by 3m customers, while a similar number use products from the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

"VW has a 300+ model range - that's unmanageable"

Advertisement - Article continues below

These five manufacturing groups and companies account for around 19m of the approximately 30m cars on our roads. The remainder comprises (in order) Peugeot/Citroens, Hyundai-Kias, Toyotas, Mercedes and Smarts, then Fiats/Chryslers/Jeeps and what the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders calls 'others'. These are the 200-plus smaller to miniscule British and foreign brands. But the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo also sit in this class - and are no doubt trying to escape it.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Trade expert CAP says more than 7m cars change hands annually. So a quarter of us opt for a different car every year. How long do they keep going? The 'average vehicle age' is now 7.8 years, reckons the SMMT. But it predicts this will rise to 8.1 years by 2022. Despite the perception that they aren't built to last, the evidence suggests otherwise.

How to sell your car

Can you imagine a laptop or a mobile phone lasting for almost a decade? I can't. And neither can many of their manufacturers, who prefer their products to last months rather than years. No wonder Apple is THE most profitable company on the planet, by some margin.

It's a credit to the global auto industry that it adopts a less greedy, more sustainable approach. Spend less than £10k on a world-class VW up! or Skoda Citigo, for example, and it'll almost certainly be around a decade from now. Put another way, it'll devalue by an average £1,000 (or less) annually, or under £3 a day. Now visit your local station and see how far three quid gets you on a train - that'll probably be late, possibly cancelled.

How long do you keep your cars for? Let us know in the comments below...




'The temporary shutdown of car factories could benefit manufacturers and customers'

With car factories around the world closing temporarily, it may give manufacturers the chance to clear out the current backlog of unsold new cars, say…
28 Mar 2020

‘JLR’s very British approach: keep calm and carry on’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler praises Jaguar Land Rover on both its ability to handle a crisis
26 Mar 2020

'Car exhibitions are going through the most dramatic period of change in a generation'

With the changing car market, the government's petrol & diesel ban plus the unprecedented Coronavirus, the car exhibition industry is going through a …
22 Mar 2020

'We’ll always be here to bring you the best in car news'

In this extraordinary period of unprecedented action, fear not as Auto Express will always be here to deliver you the very best in car news
19 Mar 2020

Most Popular

Bentley Continental GT

Bentley’s built a horse-themed Continental GT Convertible

The bespoke Continental GT Convertible Equestrian Edition features tweed door panels, a walnut dash and gold “horse and rider” emblems
9 Mar 2020

Most Wanted Cars 2020: poll

Decide which classic car you would most want to see brought back from the dead by an all new model
27 Mar 2020
BMW 4 Series

New 2020 BMW 4 Series spotted undergoing development

A near production-ready version of the latest BMW 4 Series Coupe has been spied, wearing a pair of huge kidney grilles.
19 Mar 2020