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Used Car Market Set for Big Changes

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Used cars (pictured: 1997 Toyota Prius)

Recent data from R.L. Polk & Co. reveals that the average age of a used car in the U.S. is 11.4 years. That’s up from 10.8 years in 2012, and could continue to increase at least until 2018. Industry analysts say cars are built to last and many consumers are still afraid to take on more debt, as a way to explain the trend. As used cars become a greater part of the economic landscape, watch for the used car market to take on increased importance both at dealerships and in online sales.

Toyota 1997 Prius: Video

Speaking of used cars, Toyota’s very first Prius made its debut in 1997 in Japan. Known early on as the G21 project, Toyota’s goal was to build and sell a green, family car that was also fun to drive. The car was designed and manufactured completely in-house, with engineers aiming for a 50 percent increase in fuel efficiency. It did not land in U.S. and European showrooms until three years later, for the 2000 model year. However, it took four more seasons until the second-generation version of the car was able to build a large following. That was in 2004, the first year that Toyota used its now famous Hybrid Synergy Drive.

A huge boost for the Prius was winning Car of the Year for North America that same year, and Car of the Year for Europe in 2005. After racking up hundreds of industry and customer awards, the Prius is now known as a green icon in the world of alternative-fuel transportation. Those shopping for used cars will be hard put to find a 1997 Prius out there, unfortunately. Most have been gobbled up by collectors and enthusiasts in Japan. The few that have made their way to the U.S. are either in museums or travel the car show circuit.

For more information about Toyota cars and trucks, visit the Japanese automaker’s official website:

Larry Bell writes about cars, gadgets, business, and history. He has been a professional writer and editor for over 20 years and enjoys all car-related topics, especially electric and hybrid vehicle news. Larry covers the auto industry for MPA and often reports live from the floor of major shows in Detroit, LA, San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas and elsewhere.

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