• Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Average age of vehicles on U.S. roads hits 12.5 years, another record


May 15, 2023
Average age of vehicles on U.S. roads hits 12.5 years, another record


The average age of passenger cars and light trucks in the United States has risen to a new record of 12.5 years. According to a study presented by S&P Global Mobility, there are more than 284 million vehicles being driven on U.S. roads, and that record average age is up by three months compared to 2022. This is the sixth straight year that the average age has risen, and the continuation of the trend wasn’t unexpected.

“We expected the confluence of factors impacting the fleet coming out of 2021 would provide further upward pressure on average vehicle age,” said Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions for S&P Global Mobility. The reasons for the aging vehicle fleet are well known by this point. The Covid pandemic initially impacted new vehicle sales, then shortages were caused by a lack of microprocessor chips for the automotive industry. “But the pressure was amplified in the back half of 2022 as interest rates and inflation began to take their toll,” Campau added.

The combined effect of these factors caused retail and fleet sales of new light vehicles in the United States to drop 8% from 2021’s 14.6 million units to 13.9 million units in 2022. S&P Global Mobility says that’s the lowest level recorded in over a decade. “There are almost 122 million vehicles in operation over 12 years old,” said Campau.

But signs suggest there may be a small turnaround after this year, with 14.5 million vehicles expected to be sold. “While pressure will remain on average age in 2023, we expect the curve to begin to flatten this year as we look toward returning to historical norms for new vehicle sales in 2024,” said Campau.

Also unsurprising is data showing a dramatic decrease in the number of passenger cars — specifically sedans, coupes, wagons and hatchbacks — as light trucks and sport utility vehicles make up the bulk of new vehicle sales. Last year, 78% of all new vehicles sold were light trucks or utility vehicles, and presently 63% of all vehicles on American roadways are trucks or utility vehicles. By 2028, light trucks and utility vehicles are projected to make up around 80% of the total vehicle fleet on U.S. roads.

All of this data is seen as a boon for the aftermarket industry and service centers. As the vehicle fleet ages, more repair work is required to keep the older vehicles on the road. Owners are also likely to make upgrades to their vehicles instead of replacing them.

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