The average age of light vehicles in operation in the US has risen to 11.8 years this year, according to new research.

From 2002-2007 the average age increased by 3.5 percent while 2008-2013 saw a 12.2 percent increase. Over the last five years, the average age increase has returned to a more traditional four percent, the figures from business information provider IHS Markit revealed.

“Better technology and overall vehicle quality improvements continue to be key drivers of the rising average vehicle age over time,” said Mark Seng, Director, Global Automotive Aftermarket Practice at IHS Markit.

“The 40 percent drop in new vehicle sales due to the recession created an acceleration in average age like we’ve never seen before. In the last couple of years, however, average age has returned to its more traditional rate of increase.”

A record level of more than 278 million light vehicles are now in operation in the country – an increase of more than 5.9 million (2.2 percent) since 2018.

Light vehicles are not aging consistently across the US. The study found:

  • The oldest light vehicles are found in the West at 12.4 years while the youngest are found in the Northeast at 10.9 years
  • In the West, light vehicles increased 1.5 percent from 2018-2019 while in the Midwest they aged by just 0.4 percent
  • Montana has the oldest average age of light vehicles at 16.6 years
  • Vermont has the youngest average age of light vehicles at 9.9 years

“The increasing VIO fleet is providing a robust new business pipeline for the aftermarket,” added Mr Seng. “A larger fleet means more service and repair opportunities in the future.”