Vehicle life expectancy – What does it mean in 2011?

Enacted in October 1960 the United States Trade Embargo on Cuba has had many impacts on the people of Cuba. The most interesting development from a car enthusiast’s point of view is the sheer levels of old cars clunking their ways around the islands road network. How is it that these old jalopy's are still succeeding in bringing locals from A to B after decades of continual use? This week I examine which cars last the longest and what vehicle life expectancy really means in a world of planned obsolescence and where many are replacing their vehicles after as little as 40,000 kilometres.

 

Best in Class

After scouring the online world for consumer reports, odometer world records and reports on car parts I have come to the conclusion that Honda, Toyota, BMW and Mercedes seem to hold the most confidence in terms of longevity. While consensus seems to point towards these four it must be noted that the assertion that they last the longest must come with a substantial asterisk; vehicle types, models and parts vary wildly and much of the success behind long lasting models is down to how well the owner takes care of the vehicle throughout its life.
 

Drive.com.au Top 10 slowest depreciating vehicles on the Australian auto market Caradvice.com.au Top 5 most reliable car brands
1. Subaru WRX hatchback 1. Mazda
2. Toyota Yaris Sedan 2. Honda
3. VW Golf 103TDI Diesel 3. Toyota
4. Mazda 3 Maxx Sport Hatchback 4. Mitsubishi
5. BMW 335i M Sport Sedan 5. Kia
6. Mazda 2 Genki Hatchback  
7. Honda Civic VTI sedan Worlds longest running passenger car
8. Mazda 3 Neo sedan 1966 Volvo P1800 with 2.9 million miles (as of July 2011) owned by the proud Irv Gordon
9. Audi A4 3.2FSI sedan
10.Toyota Corolla Conquest Sedan

 

Significance for Fleet Managers

Before writing this article I consulted with a number of in house fleet experts to examine what impact vehicle life expectancy would have on fleet and fleet related costs. Their response was that it would have very little impact on anything other than the resale value or remarketed value of the vehicle, and even then the value of a vehicles life expectancy can be mitigated by other factors (see the Toyota Camry which depreciates substantially as a result of over exposure and other factors).
 

Final Thoughts

While it is greatly heartening to hear that a manufacturer has a reputation for long life cars and highly durable parts, its importance in a fleet sense should not be overstated. For the vast majority of both private and fleet buyers the key factor should always be expected resale value and while this is frequently a function of reliability, the two do not always correlate. So for the purists there will always be fun stats (like MTBF -mean time between failures), fun forums (High mileage club – not to be confused with any other club with a similar name) and odometer records. For the rest of us cost conscious consumers, the top consideration should continue to be re-sale value.

*Sources available by request

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See our article on vehicle depreciation

Do you still think longievity is important?

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