Millions More Cars On The Road, And Not Just For Thanksgiving – Forbes

Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2016

It’s not your imagination, or just because of the long Thanksgiving weekend: the highways really are more crowded than ever.

It’s a fact. According to analysts at IHS Markit, the number of cars registered to American drivers hit a record of more than 264 million this year. That’s an increase of more than 6.2 million, or 2.4 percent, from the same period a year ago, the firm said.

In percentage terms, that 2.4 percent increase is also a record since IHS began keeping track, beating a 2.1-percent increase in 2015.

No wonder traffic is backed up, as cars and trucks hit record volumes. Photo: IHS

No wonder traffic is backed up, as cars and trucks hit record volumes. Photo: IHS

The increase in so-called Vehicles in Operation is a result of several short- and long-term factors.

In the short term, U.S. auto sales hit a record of close to 17.5 million in 2015, and 2016 sales should come fairly close to last year’s record.

Sales of cars and trucks have more than bounced back after bottoming out in 2009, in the Great Recession. The recession prompted consumers to hang onto their cars longer, up and down the credit spectrum.

In the depths of the recession and recovery, customers with subprime credit might not have been able to get an auto loan at all. Some customers who could afford a new car held back, because they lost confidence in the job market. And even well-heeled customers with secure jobs came to realize they really didn’t need a new car every three or four years, after all.


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