U.S. Vehicle Ages Rise

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U.S. Vehicle Ages Rise
An aerial view of a large car park of vehicles at the Port of Los Angeles. © Flystock

The average age of light vehicles in the United States rose 9% to 12.1 years in 2021, from 11.1 years in 2012, and is projected to bump up to 12.2 years in 2022, according to data in the latest report jointly published by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.

Published in the 2023 Auto Care Factbook, the report found that passenger car average age increased 14% to 12.8 years in 2021, from 11.2 years in 2012. Meanwhile, light truck average age rose by a smaller percentage, 5% to 11.6 years in 2021, compared with 11 in 2012. Passenger car average age was projected to rise to 13.1 years, while light truck average age was expected to remain at 11.6 years.

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According to the report, 43% of passenger cars and light trucks were at least 12 years old in 2021, 23% were 4-7 years old, 17% were 3 years or newer and 17% were 8-11 years old. Back in 2012, 38% were at least 12 years old, 24% were 4-7, 24% were 8-11 and 14% were 3 years old or newer.

Total distance driven within the U.S. surged 11% to 3.2 trillion miles in 2021, rebounding from a pandemic-caused 14% decline in 2020, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. However, the report noted, annual miles driven in 2021 remained behind the pre-pandemic level of 3.3 trillion miles in 2019.

“After continuing to decline in February, the 2021 rebound began in March, reflecting the return of driving to work and traveling for leisure,” the Auto Care Association noted in its factbook. “These trends were boosted by the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as increased package shipping volume.” The association noted that a significant share of Americans continues to work from home, limiting the full return to pre-pandemic driving levels.

By the end of 2021, the total number of registered light vehicles slipped 1% to 288.4 million. That’s the first recorded annual decrease in the number since the 256 million recorded in 2012, which was a 0.4% decline from 2011. The figure is expected to increase 1% to 292.2 million by the end of 2022.

The main sources of data used as inputs in the channel forecast model are U.S. Economic Census data, Industrial Marketing Research Inc. and S&P Global Mobility, for economic data as well as industry data provided by its automotive group.

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