"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"

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.

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...

Recommended

'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'
Opinion

'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'

Mike Rutherford thinks the new Pop-Up Motor Show can be the perfect way to serve the demands of Britain's car users
11 Oct 2020
'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020

Most Popular

UK van speed limits: all you need to know
Tips & advice

UK van speed limits: all you need to know

What's the speed limit for a van in the UK? It's not always the one you'll see posted on the road. We explain all
8 Oct 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport turns up the wick to 296bhp
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport turns up the wick to 296bhp

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport adds more power and gets an aero overhaul
13 Oct 2020
New Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid revealed with 690bhp
Porsche Panamera

New Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid revealed with 690bhp

The Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid becomes the most powerful variant available, priced from £140,130
19 Oct 2020