Nine Cars Americans Keep the Longest

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5. Lincoln
> Average age when turned in: 6.79 years
> Change from previous year: 10.1% (9th most)
> Market share: 0.5% (10th lowest)
> Average buyer age: 60 years old

Lincoln is Ford’s luxury car brand, although its sales trail those of Cadillac and Lexus, the upscale brands owned by General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), respectively. In the past 12 months, Lincoln has sold just 83,742 cars, while Cadillac has sold nearly 145,000 cars and Lexus sold 235,000. Lincoln’s demographic has aged considerably in the last few years. According to Polk, the average Lincoln buyer was 60 years old last year, older than the average buyer of any other make, and five years older than the average Lincoln buyer in 2007. Getting a Lincoln off the lot is especially hard for car dealers, who require an average of 102 days to sell a car — longer than all makes except GMC.

4. Mitsubishi
> Average age when turned in: 6.92 years (tied for 3rd highest)
> Change from previous year: 10.7% (8th most)
> Market share: 0.4% (8th lowest)
> Average buyer age: 48 years old

Mitsubishi is struggling terribly as a brand and has done so in the past 12 months. The Japanese automaker sold fewer than 4,000 units in October in the United States, down 9.1% compared to last October. The brand has one of the highest rates of complaints per units sold, as well as the eighth worst retention rate among major brands. Just one in three people who traded in a Mitsubishi in 2012 opted to get another car of the same make. The average time it took a dealer to sell a Mitsubishi in September was 99 days, longer than every brand but GMC and Lincoln. Mitsubishi cars take longer to sell, and owners are holding on to them longer as well. The average age of a Mitsubishi traded in October 2011, was 6.2 years. In October 2012, it was nearly seven years.

Also Read: The 10 Best-Selling Hybrid Cars

3. Buick
> Average age when turned in: 6.92 years (tied for 3rd highest)
> Change from previous year: 4.0% (16th most)
> Market share: 1.2% (16th lowest)
> Average buyer age: 59 years old

Buick is General Motors’ worst-selling brand. The car manufacturer sold only 13,384 vehicles in October, or just 6.8% of GM’s total unit sales. Still, sales were up 14.5% that month compared to October 2011. Customer retention for the Buick make is also one of the lowest, with 62% of those who traded in a Buick in 2011 opting for a different make. The average Buick buyer is 59-years old, older than the average buyer of any other brand except Lincoln. However, according to Polk, Buick was alone among makes in lowering the average age of its customers, which fell from an average of 62-years old in 2007.

2. Jaguar
> Average age when turned in: 7.00 years
> Change from previous year: -0.3% (7th least)
> Market share: 0.1% (2nd lowest)
> Average buyer age: 55 years old

Along with Volvo, Jaguar is the only other make to have an average age of at least seven years when it was turned in last month. Once those cars are turned in though, consumers are not so quick to buy a new one. Only 31% of Jaguar buyers end up buying another one, below the 49% industry average. Very few Jaguars are are being bought — only 699 Jaguars were sold in October 2012, down 41.3% from October 2011. Although Jaguars often are regarded as the pinnacle of luxury vehicles, according to a recent annual survey by Consumer Reports, the car performed the worst based on subscriber experiences.

1. Volvo
> Average age when turned in: 7.05 years
> Change from previous year: 2.8% (10th least)
> Market share: 0.4% (9th lowest)
> Average buyer age: 51 years old

Volvo has struggled significantly in recent years, and currently has just a 0.4% market share, worse than makes such as Scion and MINI. In 2010, Ford dumped Volvo, selling the brand to China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Despite Volvo’s traditional reputation for safety — five models currently have top safety pick ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety — owners are largely unsatisfied. According to J.D. Power and Associates, only 30% of Volvo owners purchase a new vehicle from Volvo when trading in their old car, one of the worst retention rates in the automotive industry. The make has become a tough sell, and dealers now need an average of 76 days to move Volvos off their lots — more than the 61-day industry average.

Douglas A. McIntyre, Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess and Samuel Weigley

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