The average age of light vehicles in the United States increased 9%, to 11.9 years in 2020 from 10.9 years in 2011, and is projected to rise to 12.1 years in 2021, according to data in the latest report jointly published by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.
The report, published in the 2022 Auto Care Factbook, concluded that 44% of passenger cars and light trucks in the U.S. were at least 12 years old last year, 15% were 8-11 years old, 22% were 4-7 years old and 18% were 3 years old or newer. In 2011, 36% were at least 12 years old, 24% were 8-11, 25% were 4-7 and 15% were 3 years old or newer.
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Total distance driven within the U.S. decreased by 13% to 2.8 trillion miles in 2020, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The report noted that throughout the pandemic, monthly vehicle miles traveled decreased by as much as 48% in April 2020 – before gradually returning to relative stability in the second half of last year.
“Driving behavior adapted throughout the pandemic as municipalities and states restricted activities, workers returned to work to varying degrees and school districts educated students in person, virtually or using a hybrid model, and as individuals gravitated to road trips over airline travel during holiday periods,” the Auto Care Association noted in its Factbook.
By the end of 2020, 289.9 million total registered motor vehicles – including medium- and heavy-duty trucks – were on the road in the U.S., up 3.3% from 2019. The figure is projected to decline slightly to 288.4 million vehicles by the end of 2021.
The number of total registered light vehicles reached 280.9 million last year, up 1% from 2019. That number is projected to decline 1% to 279.4 million for 2021. The three main sources of data for the channel forecast model used in the report are the five-year U.S. Economic Census, Industrial Marketing Research Inc. and IHS Markit Inc. – for economic data as well as industry data provided by its automotive group, which includes the former R.L. Polk.