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Average U.S. Car Age Hits Record High Surging To 12.6 Years

As consumers hold on to their cars, the average age of vehicles in operation continues to creep up


by Sam D. Smith

May 26, 2024 at 17:59

 Average U.S. Car Age Hits Record High Surging To 12.6 Years

  • The average age of cars on U.S. roads has reached a record high of 12.6 years.
  • The number of cars aged 1-5 years has decreased, while the total number of vehicles rose by 2 million.
  • EV adoption topped 1 million in 2023 but is still slower than what automakers expected.

The average age of new cars on American roads has risen yet again, standing at a record-breaking 12.6 years, two month up on 2023. The increase is attributed to a number of factors, including the continued impact of the pandemic, higher new car prices, and consumer reluctance to switch to EVs.

It’s the seventh straight year that the age of the average car has risen. In addition to the average age of vehicles getting older, only 35 percent of cars in operation fall between the 1–5-year-old category. With 88 million vehicles recorded, that’s a drop of about two million from the year before.

Read: Used Car Inventory Piles Up Despite 6% Price Drop From Last Year

Meanwhile, the total number of vehicles on American roads rose to 286 million — an increase of about 2 million, with more people holding off on scrapping their cars. The study by S&P Global Mobility predicts that vehicles in an “aftermarket sweetspot,” between six and 14 years of age, will continue to drive up the average age of cars.

While this may not be the news that automakers want to hear (after all, their primary goal is to shift as many new models as possible), it’s a good omen for the aftermarket industry. The firm expects opportunities to open up for companies in the aftermarket and vehicle service sector in the U.S., as the number of repairs are expected to grow alongside vehicle age.

 Average U.S. Car Age Hits Record High Surging To 12.6 Years
S&P Global Mobility

Since 2020, 27 million cars and 26 million light trucks have been scrapped. Compare that with 13 million new passenger cars registered versus a much larger number of 45 million new light truck registrations, and there’s a clear trend. “Consumers have continued to demonstrate a preference for utility vehicles,” said Todd Campau, aftermarket practice lead at S&P Global Mobility. “Manufacturers have adjusted their portfolio accordingly, which continues to reshape the composition of the fleet of vehicles in operation in the market.”

Meanwhile, EV adoption continued to rise, with 3.2 million EVs recorded on U.S. roads in January. 2023’s EV registrations rose to over one million for the first time in history, although adoption is still slower than what many manufacturers had anticipated. The current average age of EVs stands at 3.5 years, but if consumer uptake remains slow, that figure is likely to rise.

 Average U.S. Car Age Hits Record High Surging To 12.6 Years

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