(Bloomberg) -- Cars on US roads are as old as they’ve ever been, potentially complicating efforts to expand the use of new safety and emissions-reduction technologies.
The age of light vehicles domestically is now 12.2 years on average, up almost two months from last year’s figure, according to S&P Global Mobility. That’s a record high and marks the fifth straight year of increases.
Analysts at the data provider pointed to the global microchip shortage, supply-chain snags and inventory challenges -- all of which likely kept drivers in their old cars longer. The rising cost of new vehicles -- $46,526 last month, according to Kelley Blue Book -- was another deterrent for prospective buyers.
The combination could put a damper on manufacturers’ efforts to introduce newer safety technologies and to spur faster adoption of more fuel-efficient hybrid and electric vehicles.
“Everything is going to be delayed when it comes to MPGs because new vehicles are selling at a lower rate than expected,” Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions at S&P Global Mobility, said in an interview.
Carmakers sold over 15 million new cars in the US in 2021, according to Cox Automotive data. EVs made up just over 3% of the total, with hybrids accounting for another 6.4%.
Campau said in addition to getting older, US cars are facing more wear and tear as overall driving levels have bounced back from lows at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group said the vehicles averaged 12,300 miles in 2021, up more than 10% from the prior year.
“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,” Campau said.
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