Industry Optimistic, While U.S. Drivers Keep Cars Longer

Volkswagen assembly line

After some pretty disastrous years, the auto industry is crowing with expectations of growth in 2012. Sales are up, and thousands of jobs are reportedly in the offing.

At the same time, a just-published analysis by Polk reveals that U.S. drivers are keeping their cars longer and longer. The average age for cars and light trucks is now 10.8 years.

Is there some contradiction here? Not really, since neither Polk nor the automakers expect the trend of driving older, high-mileage cars to continue rising. That is, a lot of pent-up demand for new cars has been building since 2008.

Another factor driving new-car sales is an improved product. The industry is making some of its best (and longest-lasting) products ever, cars like the 2013 Ford Fusion.

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