Ford CEO Mark Fields believes the US car market is going to remain strong for a long time to come, and he isn’t worried about the shifting car ownership attitude of millennials.
During a press event in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, Fields said that he thinks the current economic state of the country and “physical” state of the car business is “very supportive of an industry in the 17 [million] to 18 million units for the next couple of years.”
Ford has reason to be celebrating its recent success. The car company sold 16.5 million new vehicles in 2014, and that number is expected to hit 18 million by the end of 2015.
Fields remind’s investors and naysayers that “the inventory of the cars on the road today is the oldest they’ve ever been — 11 1/2 years old.”
Trucks on the road are even old with Fields noting, “25% of full-size pickups are 20 years or older, and 50% are 10 years or older. That’s before the housing industry came back pre-recession. The housing industry is most closely correlated with full-size pickups.”
70% of car sales are driven by replacements which means Ford and its competitors have reason to celebrate the next few years.
Fields acknowledges, that many millennials are skirting ownership for the sharing economy, but he notes that as they get older and start families, they will be just as likely to purchase a vehicle of their own.
“The world is not going to evolve to just autonomous vehicles roaming the planet and anytime you want one you just hit your smartphone. Life stage comes in to play,” Fields confidently says.
“When they’re in the stage where they’re having kids, does mom or dad want to schlep two car seats from shared vehicle to shared vehicle? Part of my car was my roaming cargo facility, I kept all our stuff in there. So it’ll be a spectrum. We see autonomous vehicles, and vehicles with more semiautonomous features,” he adds.