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New Survey Spells More Bad News For Detroit

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Continuing the steady drumbeat of bad news in this automotive annus horribilis, a new survey from DriverSide.com/Kelton research shows that more than 4 out of every 5 automobile owners now plan to keep their current vehicle longer due to the recession. An amazing 82% of vehicle owners aged 18 and older say they are ditching any dream of a new ride and sticking with the one they have. While there was some slight variation across household income and number of children, the numbers show that in all regions and all income levels, people are asking the auto industry to tell it to the hand.

The survey is the first one I have seen to actually quantify the growing consumer sentiment against buying something new and is a strong indicator that the recent two to three year cycle of trading in cars is now dead. Both the industry and consumer thinking about vehicles are in a strong state of flux and the repercussions of this sea change will be felt for years.

If there is any silver lining it is that people will be thinking more carefully now about how to properly care for their existing cars as they try to get more mileage out of them. That is something which should have happened a long time ago. Just when it seemed the oil change and the tire rotation were going to join the typewriter and the cassette player in posterity, it seems that people will be re-acquainting themselves with maintenance. Given that there are well over 200 million cars on the road that could spell some good business for the industry.

The full survey is worth a look.