Commentary

Do cars last only 10 years?

Do cars last only 10 years?
It may be time to review how long car COEs should last. Photo: Reuters
Published: 3:59 AM, February 14, 2013
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More than two decades ago, the validity of Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) was set at 10 years. Even after tremendous advances in automobile technology and increases in how long drivers own cars, however, that timeline has not changed. Perhaps it is time to relook at whether to extend how long COEs last.

Decades ago, far fewer car owners may have wanted to keep their car for more than a decade. Many cars were not durable enough to stay in good shape; drivers had safety concerns, and older cars had higher repair bills.

Many manufacturers also did not expect cards to last very long, so warranties were shorter and odometers often only ran to 99,999 miles (160,000 km).

Now, as The New York Times put it recently, 200,000 miles is the new 100,000. Materials used to manufacture cars are better, advances in corrosion protection make them last longer and customer satisfaction surveys show cars having fewer problems every year. The average age of cars in the United States is 11 years, and more than 20 per cent are at least 16 years old.

Indeed, car manufacturers are so confident that warranties are getting longer. Ten-year warranties for Toyota and Hyundai cars are common in many places, and in some countries Chrysler offers a lifetime warranty for the engine, transmission and drive system.

Cars remain safer for far longer, too. Newer models have more safety features, from more sophisticated designs to airbags and better brakes. And in any event, as Consumer Reports put it when assessing car safety, “the driver is a critical factor, especially among teens and older drivers”.

Despite all these advances, there have been few, if any, formal reviews of whether COEs should last longer. Even though the Vehicle Quota System (VQS) Review Committee in 1999 did mention that public consultations yielded “a few suggestions ... to extend the validity period, or to base the validity on usage”, its report did not discuss changes.

More recent reviews, in 2010 and last year, focused largely on tweaking the technical aspects of allocating and bidding for COEs.

BENEFITTING DRIVERS AND THE PLANET

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