Pandemic drives average age of cars on U.S. roads to a record high

Associated Press



Drivers are holding on to cars and trucks longer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads rose by a month this year to a record 11.9 years.

The IHS Markit consulting firm says the pandemic has caused consumers to put the brakes on spending and hold onto their current vehicles longer. As a result, fewer new vehicles are coming onto the roads, pushing up the average age.

IHS said Tuesday that it expects the shift will create opportunities for repair shops and parts sellers because older vehicles need more service. It "anticipates significant upward pressure on average age in 2020 and subsequent years as consumers work toward a new normal both economically and in how they use personal vehicles in a post-COVID-19 era," said Todd Campau, IHS associate director of aftermarket solutions.

Before the pandemic, U.S. new vehicle sales were expected to be a little under 17 million in 2020, short of the record 17.55 million in 2016, but still at a healthy level. Now most analysts are expecting sales to be around 14 million for the full year.

The average vehicle age has been inching toward 12 years for several years now, and the pandemic is likely to raise it by four to six months in the coming years, IHS said. A decade ago, the average age was 10.6 years.

IHS says that new vehicle sales were trending down even before the pandemic. New vehicles accounted for 6.1% of the vehicles in use last year, compared with 6.7% in 2016. This year, IHS Markit expects the percentage to fall to 5% or less. “Declining new vehicle share in the overall population means fewer younger vehicles to temper average age growth,” the company said in a statement.

There are about 280 million vehicles registered in the U.S., up 1% from 2019.



More From

  • Your EV’s electricity will cover parking fee at Nissan’s new Pavilion

    Nissan just opened its futuristic new Pavilion exhibition near its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, and it’s inaugurating the facility with what it says is a global first: Visitors can use their electric vehicles to discharge electricity back to the building in lieu of paying for parking. It’s a demonstration of the Nissan Energy Share system, which enables EVs to charge their batteries, power homes or buildings, or feed energy back into the grid, effectively turning vehicle batteries into mobile energy storage devices. Nissan last year said that Leaf models already on the roads globally contain more than 10 gigawatt-hours of combined energy storage potential.

  • How the Beetle-based Plattenwagen spawned the original Volkswagen Bus

    Volkswagen's emblematic rear-engined Bus is turning 70 this year. It's one of the best-known and most versatile vehicles ever built. It went electric before it was cool, and it's still sought-after in 2020; your author owned one (and currently drives a Beetle), and Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski keeps a 1975 camper.

  • Driving the McLaren GT, Audi S7 and Vintage Electric Cafe bicycle | Autoblog Podcast #639

    In this week's Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by West Coast Editor James Riswick and Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. This week, they've been having some fun in the McLaren GT and the Toyota 86 GT. James has spent some time with the very lovely Vintage Electric Cafe e-bike. They've also been driving the Ford Ranger and Audi S7. In the news, Ford gets new leadership, and Micro Machines are back, baby!

  • Vaughn Gittin Jr. gives us a Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400 prototype walkaround

    Since we got our first official look at the Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400 prototype created by Ford Performance and Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s RTR Vehicles, we haven't been able to get this smokeshow out of our heads. This seven-motor, 1,400-horsepower, tire-shredding EV came together beautifully in a mesmerizing example of form and function. Now, Autoblog Producer Alexander Malburg got a chance to get up close and personal with this electric firecracker, and he brought his video equipment with him.