Vehicle Average Age Hits 12.2 Years

By Staff Writer May 24, 2022
The average age of light vehicles in operation (VIO) in the U.S. will continue to have upward pressure through 2022 and 2023. The average age of light vehicles in operation (VIO) in the U.S. will continue to have upward pressure through 2022 and 2023.

The average age of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. rose to 12.2 years this year, increasing by nearly two months over the prior year, according to new research from S&P Global Mobility (formerly the automotive team at IHS Markit).

This is the fifth straight year the average vehicle age has risen. This year marks another all-time high for the average age even as the vehicle fleet recovered, growing by 3.5 million units in the past year.

The global microchip shortage, combined with associated supply chain and inventory challenges, are the primary factors pushing U.S. average vehicle age higher, according to the analysis. Chip supply constraints have caused continued parts shortages for carmakers, who have been forced to cut production. The constrained supply of new cars and light trucks, amid a strong demand for personal transportation, could have influenced consumers to continue operating their existing vehicles longer, as inventory levels for both new and used vehicles were depleted across the industry.

Todd Campau, assoc. director of aftermarket solutions @ S&P Global Mobility.

The ongoing effect of supply chain constraints has led to a decrease in vehicle scrappage, which measures the number of vehicles leaving the vehicle population and has been a catalyst for the rise in average age over time. The scrappage volume for the prior year stood at over 11 million and scrappage rate as a percent of vehicles on the road was just 4.2% of the vehicles in operation (VIO) - the lowest annual rate in the past two decades. It was in stark contrast from the previous year, which saw scrappage at its highest volume in two decades at over 15 million units, and second highest scrappage rate at 5.6% of VIO.

The vehicle fleet grew substantially in spite of soft new-vehicle sales as units that left the fleet during the pandemic returned and the existing fleet sustained better than expected.

Vehicle miles traveled also has returned to pre-pandemic levels, increasing by more than 10% in 2021 as lockdowns eased and people returned to work and leisure travel. According to the S&P Global Mobility analysis, light vehicles in the US traveled an average of over 12,300 miles in 2021 and are expected to achieve a similar result in 2022.

“Coupled with increasing average age, strong average vehicle miles traveled points to the potential for a notable increase in repair revenue in the coming year,” according to Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions at S&P Global Mobility.

The average age of light vehicles in operation (VIO) in the U.S. will continue to have upward pressure through 2022 and 2023, as the pipeline for new vehicle production and sales continues to be weighed down by parts shortages.

Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Last modified on Tuesday, 31 May 2022 15:26