The Average Car Is Now a Record 12.5 Years Old
The average age of a passenger vehicle on U.S. roads has reached 12.5 years, according to research firm S&P Global Mobility. The firm analyzed data from the 284 million vehicles currently registered for the road in America, finding that the average age of vehicles on the road grew by more than three months versus 2022.
The average age of 12.5 years is a record for American car ownership, and is a result of multiple factors. The pandemic is the biggest and most obvious contributor, as its lingering effects on supply chains restricted inventory throughout 2022, increasing prices. Rising interest rates and inflation also contributed to softening demand for new cars in the second half of the year, says S&P.
"We expected the confluence of factors impacting the fleet coming out of 2021 would provide further upward pressure on average vehicle age," S&P associate director of aftermarket solutions Todd Cmapau said in a statement. "But the pressure was amplified in the back half of 2022 as interest rates and inflation began to take their toll."
Another reason people are holding onto their vehicles longer: Newer cars are just more reliable. As the Associated Press points out, manufacturing processes have improved over time, meaning engines run for longer periods of time and bodies don't rust as quickly. Increasingly, more people have decided to maintain their current cars rather than trade in for a new one to save cash.
S&P expects the average age of cars on the road to level out in 2024 as supply chains return to normal, but don't expect prices for new cars to fall. The average new car costs over $48,000 according to Kelly Blue Book. And Toyota expects that number to cross the $50,000 barrier at some point this year.
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