253 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads; average age is 11.4 years

The average age of cars on U.S. roads is 11.4 years, IHS Automotive reports.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

The average age of vehicles on U.S. roads has hit a plateau of about 11.4 years, according to an annual study by IHS Automotive, an auto industry research firm. 

After a period since the Great Recession in which the age of vehicles grew rapidly, the amount of time they have been on the road has held steady for two consecutive years.

“In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road,” said Mark Seng, an analyst at IHS Automotive. “This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction. We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and the increasing quality of today’s automobiles.”

IHS forecasts that the average age of vehicles will remain about the same through 2015, then rise to 11.5 years by 2017 and 11.7 years by 2019.


Meanwhile, the number of vehicles hauled to the junkyard last year -- a statistic known as the “scrappage rate” -- fell to just over 11.5 million vehicles scrapped during the 12-month period examined by IHS Automotive. In comparison, a record number of more than 14 million vehicles were scrapped in 2012.

At the same time, the number of vehicles on the road reached a record level of almost 253 million, an increase of more than 3.7 million, or 1.5%, since last year, IHS Automotive reported. That is a level that the auto industry hasn’t seen in the U.S. since 2004-05.

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