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Old 24th September 2012, 23:26   #1
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Default What is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

While reading this report on global auto trends, I noticed this factoid "The average age of cars on U.S. roads is 10.8 years."

Does someone know what is the average age of cars on Indian roads? Empricial observation tells me - most Ambassadors and Premier Padminis and even the original Maruti 800's are not to be seen as much as Indica's, New 800, Alto's, Santros, which in their numbers should drive the average age towards their launch. Maruti 800 and Omni were launched in 1983, Tata Indica in 1998, around the same time as Hyundai Santro. If you consider that it was only after the radical reforms since 1991 that people really started buying cars, the average age I am guessing for Indian cars on the roads today is around 17.5 years, which translates to some 2,00,000 lakh kilometers. Unless this sounds like too much reliability and we assume average running car has done 1.5lakh km at 12000km per year to give an average age of Indian car on roads today as 12.5, which is too close to the US average of 10.8 (suspecting they change their cars much too often compared to Indians ). My guess is for 17.5 years.

Any other views?
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Old 25th September 2012, 11:17   #2
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

Average age for cars in India in my view would be far less than 10.8 years as the infrastructure (In terms of roads, fuel and quality of spares replacement) makes it impossible to maintain the car in healthy state for that much longer.

The number of Ambassadors and Fiat's which are decades old have seen a consistent decline on the roads.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 25th September 2012 at 11:18.
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Old 25th September 2012, 12:25   #3
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

Very interesting question!

I hope by "average age" we mean the number of years after which the car (as a whole) is no longer used for commuting.

My Alto is in its 9th year, done around 65,000 kms and is still rearing for more. Hasn't replaced anything major over this time. If maintained well, it can easily last for another 65,000 kms over the next 5-6 years. My guess is that quite before that time, it would no longer make financial sense to bear the repair bills.

Also as the car becomes too old, it would depreciate faster and would possbly become less fuel efficient (as compared to newer technology current models), which would also tempt owners to 'retire' their vehicles years before the vehicle should see the junkyard.

If you look around, there are very few cars that you would notice (in India) that are more than 10 years old. The Indian car market has seen explonetial growth over last decade and that might be the reason for the less old cars seen on road today.

In India, even the image associated with car-ownership is quite different. Its not only about commuting from point A to B. Its also about being perceived as belonging to a particular financial class - the so-called 'status'. So lesser people like being spotted in old cars and my guess is that would be another reason for cars getting junked earlier than their real-life.

So my guess is that the avg. car life would be less than 10 years in India and the reasons would NOT be related to reliability alone.
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Old 25th September 2012, 12:39   #4
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

This is indeed a very interesting topic to discuss and know about, I have always wondered about this thing in the past and even now. Average age of a car, how does it get determined? What are the factors governing them? As per my observation it is pretty obvious that we see much more of newer cars running on the road than old cars. In fact what I have observed is it appeals to my eye, that I actually see newer models of the same car than the old car. For example, these days I see on the road more ANHC Honda City than NHC Citys and the 1st gen Honda city is even lesser. I can understand one thing for sure, which is, there are more people buying newer cars than previous gen cars. For example, if 1000 people bought 1st gen Honda City, 1.5k people bought NHCs and 2k people bought ANHCs. So is this a determining fact which lends its visual effect to the number of cars we see on road today?
Senior BHpians please throw some light and share your experiences on this intriguing question of age of road cars.

Last edited by arpanjha : 25th September 2012 at 12:45. Reason: Grammatical errors
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Old 25th September 2012, 13:15   #5
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

Apart from the other obvious reasons i.e. reliability, maintainance & financial costs some pointers (as below), I feel decides on the average age of the car before being booted.

a) Buying power

b) Needs

c) Pricing difference between fuels

d) Technological advances

e) Increasing competition
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Old 25th September 2012, 13:22   #6
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

17.5 years sounds too much for a car. I believe the car is "alive" till it can be driven safely and is economically feasible to maintain and drive.
Otherwise I don't think a car would die or refuse to start and run until it meets a sad end (accident).
I think the average life of a car can be in the range on 7-10 years in India considering the road conditions, weather conditions, dust and the maintenance as well as the fuel quality.
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Old 25th September 2012, 13:52   #7
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

Interesting topic. A lot of thoughts come into my mind:

1. As arpanjha pointed out, the reason why we don't see 20+ year old cars on the streets could be more because of the fact that the number of cars sold in that era was way lesser than recent years. Now around 250 thousand passenger cars are sold a month - 20 years back, it would have been, may be just 25000 an year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automot...ustry_in_India indicates that around 5 lakh cars were sold in 2000, whereas, in 2011, around 30 lakh cars were sold! No wonder we are not "seeing" older vehicles on road - just that its so less in number to get noticed.

2. I am not sure if there is a funda or scrapping a car as such in India. For some reason, old cars become unusable and they remain in the backyards, but seldom scrapped as in developed countries like the US.

3. Apart from antique cars, we Indians sell off old cars mostly because of the pain in maintaining them. I have an uncle who changes cars every 3-5 years (from Maruti to another Maruti), mostly because of the irritants that those cars start developing over these years. Not because that they are no more drivable. But then there are first time buyers who can afford to buy them, maintain frequently and use them for some more years.

4. #3 gives me a doubt - whether keeping a car for 3-5 years and changing (cars that earn you good resale value, like Maruti) or keeping a car for 10 plus years (provided it doesn't give much head aches in maintenance) and then changing is better?

5. I believe that the average life expectancy of cars (in multiple hands) is well above 10.8 years here in India, until they are no longer used / scrapped.

Devan.
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Old 25th September 2012, 13:53   #8
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

17.5 years seems a little too much as far as the average of a car in India is concerned. Considering the exponential increase in the number of cars in India as well as the growth of per capita income of Indians, i believe this number should probably be somewhere around half of 17.5.

India has seen its per capita income nearly double in the past 7-8 years, similary the purchasing power of an average Indian has also increased over this period of time.

This makes me believe that the average age of an Indian car should be something between 8-10 years. (Ofcourse this is only a guesstimate)
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Old 25th September 2012, 17:11   #9
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

From what you would see on the road on a normal day (count a few every day). you can easily make a guesstimate of the average age. I don't think it will be greater than 5-7 years in India.
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Old 25th September 2012, 17:25   #10
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

I think by average age, this report means "average current age" and not "average life", as thought of by the thread starter. This could be the reason for his estimation of "average age" in India to be 17.5 years.

I think "average current age" would be ~6.5 years for India, as we have a huge number of new cars. And not many cars are able to live long, thanks to bad roads and poor maintenance.
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Old 25th September 2012, 20:01   #11
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Post Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

Quote:
Originally Posted by black_rider View Post
I think by average age, this report means "average current age" and not "average life", as thought of by the thread starter. This could be the reason for his estimation of "average age" in India to be 17.5 years.
Yes absolutely. You hit the nail on the head Black_rider. It is meant to estimate the 'average current age', not 'average life'. I would imagine there's a significant difference between the two; both in definition and result.

However Dhuli did mention "average age on the road" which is almost equivalent, isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by black_rider View Post
I think "average current age" would be ~6.5 years for India, as we have a huge number of new cars. And not many cars are able to live long, thanks to bad roads and poor maintenance.
Spurred on by the topic and an overall need to get to a "number of some kind", just concluded a small sample survey at work with 40 respondents - ahem...on official mail.

Anyway turns out, I arrived at somewhere between 5-6 years in my sample. Which seems logical enough given our roads, overall infrastructure, vehicular durability etc.. No idea if my universe is a true representation; but this is what I have.

Last edited by Omtoatom : 25th September 2012 at 20:07.
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Old 25th September 2012, 20:07   #12
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Default Re: what is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omtoatom View Post
Anyway turns out, I arrived at somewhere between 5-6 years in my sample. Which seems logical enough given our roads, overall infrastructure, vehicular durability etc.. No idea if my universe is a true representation; but this is what I have.
I did a bunch of hand counted samples at different times. I felt the average age of cars is much smaller in let's say Kerala than it is in Karnataka, but in general it is not above 10. And yes, my guess was if the sample size was several thousands, it would land in the 5 to 7 years range.
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Old 25th September 2012, 20:31   #13
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Default Re: What is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

I think 10 is about right.. If you consider the city based crowd which changes the car in about 7-8 years & the rural friends who "might" change once 12-13 years.. But a very interesting topic though.. I personally change the cars once every 3-4 years.
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Old 25th September 2012, 22:13   #14
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Default Re: What is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

I used my second-hand 3-year-old M800 for 12 years before disposing it off as I wanted an AC car, and also because the govt was planning to phase off 15-year old cars way back in 2001.

I bought a new WagonR in July 2001 and am still using it, with 63 k on the odo.

I also bought a Fiesta in 2007 and am still in love with it. I plan to use it for a decade at the minimum.

Note: All my cars so far have been petrol cars, and I see no point in selling them off sooner, as I'd be taking a huge depreciation hit.

So I guess the average life of petrol cars is around 15 years and that of diesel around 10 years.
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Old 26th September 2012, 00:14   #15
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Default Re: What is the average age of cars on Indian roads?

A multitude of variables exist that alter the average operating life of cars continuously or discreetly.
We must also be acquainted with the fact that a machine is only as old as its subsequent parts, timely and proactive replacement of such consumables ensures the elongated life of the vehicle, and a car dies when replacements become impractical.
In the Indian context or in general, age of cars will be affected adversely or positively by:
1. Size of engine.. Bigger engines usually last longer due to lower RPM requirement to achieve same speed.
2. Car make/model. A Japanese car performing better than an Indian car of same segment in the long run.
3. Driving Habits. A car would last longer in the hands of a sedate driver than in the hands of a young at heart adrenaline laced driver.
4. Maintenance: India has a dearth of genuine Technicians that can handle the coming of age Diesels and Petrols. Proposed sub standard fixes to critical components if implemented almost always leads to a potential malfunction, sooner or later.
5. Roads. Frequent trips on tarmac filled with potholes and speed breakers will certainly lead to untimely deterioration of the vehicle components.
6.Weather. High humidity, high suspended particles in air et cetera reduce the operating life of a vehicle.
7.Fuel: Diesels usually last longer than Petrol due to the extra caution taken by default while designing them for compression. Diesels run at comparatively lower RPM resulting in reduced wear over time. Also worth mentioning is that while petrol is a solvent, diesel acts as a lubricant.

In light of the above discussion, and my personal opinion, average life of cars would be:
Indian/American car: 5 years
Japanese/Korean car: 8-10 years
German car: 7-8 years
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