The length of time motorists own a car has fallen rapidly in recent years, and now they are likely to change more often than they change their mobile phone, their tablets or even their mattresses and bedding.

Data produced by HPI, the automotive data publisher, reveals that some car manufacturers now see average returns of vehicles in 18 months. The average mobile phone contract lasts 24 or 36 months, meaning that some motorists may change their vehicle twice before they change their phone contract again.

Ideally, a mattress should be replaced every eight years, or 96 months, meaning that in the lifetime of one mattress a consumer could have changed car five times!

“We are continuing to see the ‘iphonification’ of the automotive industry as consumers increasingly pay to drive rather than pay to own their cars,” James Dower, a used car specialist at HPI, said. “It’s the same model as the mobile phone industry where people are comfortable paying a monthly fee – only they are now doing this with cars as well.”

Personal Contract Purchase and other finance options are having a profound effect on car ownership, which is why the motor industry is seeing consumers changing their cars more often than many household objects. Personal Contract Hire is also increasing, as consumers increasingly look towards usership rather than ownership. HPI estimates that around 80% of new car sales are financed in some way.

“The car is still a status symbol and getting a new one allows people to show off to a degree,” James Dower added. “However, changing cars with such regularity was almost unheard of just ten years ago. Previously it was fairly common for motorists to keep their vehicles for a minimum of five years or longer, but that has now changed dramatically and dropped to just two years for millions of drivers.”