USA: 234.4 million light vehicles on the roads by mid-2008

By just-auto.com editorial team | 12 November 2004

The number of light vehicles in the United States will grow to 234.4 million units by July 1, 2008, according to a forecast report released by RL Polk & Co. containing annual projections of total light vehicles-in-operation (VIO) for the United States.

According to the report, the number of light vehicles on the road will increase by 16 million vehicles over the next five years. VIO is defined as previously registered vehicles, plus new vehicle registrations for the year, less any vehicles that were scrapped during the year.

"During the next five years, we expect light truck VIO to grow by over 13% and passenger car VIO to fall by nearly 9%. This development will certainly have implications for automotive part product life cycles and the aftermarket," an RL Polk spokesman said.

In 2003, passenger cars comprised 60% of vehicles in operation and light trucks 40%. Polk projects by 2008 the percentage of cars will decrease to 54.7% while light trucks increase to 45.3%.

Passenger car VIO will decline slightly over the next several years as older cars are scrapped and replaced with new light trucks (mini-vans, pickups, and sport utility vehicles) instead of new cars, according to Polk analytic consultant and model builder Dave Goebel.

"There are several other dynamics at play here," Goebel said. Light truck sales have recently outnumbered passenger car sales.  We also know from our research that light trucks last longer than cars, and that more recently produced model years outlast older model years. Our modelling techniques are based on these known differences in durability across vehicle segments and model years."