People Are Keeping Their Cars Longer Than Ever

·2 min read
Heavy traffic moves along the 101 freeway on Wednesday morning November 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Heavy traffic moves along the 101 freeway on Wednesday morning November 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

The electric age may be on the horizon, but for one reason or another people are not getting rid of their combustion-engined vehicles just yet, according to a new study from S&P reported on by Reuters. Now, the average age of cars and light trucks in the U.S. sits at an all time high: 12.5 years.

There are a number of drivers behind the rise in age. The study cites supply constraints on dealer inventory and reduced customer demand because of higher inflation and interest rates as leading causes. Something else that is certainly making people hold onto their old cars for a bit longer is the simple fact that new vehicles are now more expensive than they ever have been. It’s not a winning recipe.

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It has been a similar story over the past six years as the average age of cars on the road continues to climb, but a change may be coming. The outlet reports that the average vehicle age is expected to actually drop in the coming year. S&P says rising vehicle availability and renewed demand is expected to push new vehicle sales over 14.5 million units in 2023. Electric vehicles are also bringing average vehicle age down.

The average age of a battery electric vehicle in the U.S. actually fell to just 3.6 years old in 2023. That’s down slightly from the 3.7-year-old mark in 2022. S&P says the average has been somewhere between 3 and 4 years old since 2017. Quickly increasing U.S. electric vehicle sales – up 58 percent in 2022 according to S&P – are keeping the average age of those types of vehicles relatively young.

That’s happening despite the fact that a higher percentage of electric vehicles are leaving the population when compared to combustion powered vehicles. Between 2013 and 2022, 6.6 percent of electric vehicles in operation were scrapped. During that same time, just 5.2 percent of combustion vehicles met their maker. So, on the whole, if you got the feeling electric vehicles are a bit more disposable than ICE vehicles, you’re not technically wrong.

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