The average age of vehicles on US roads has been climbing since the 2008 recession. With new-vehicle sales suppressed by the pandemic, that trend is not slowing, Car and Driver reports. The average age of a car in use now is 11.9 years, IHS Markit found, a one-month increase over last year. In 2019, 6.1% of vehicles on the road were new; that's expected to drop closer to 5% this year. The nation's fleet averaged 9.6 years old in 2002, per the Detroit Free Press. The number of vehicles also rose last year, IHS Markit found, crossing 280 million, a 1% increase. The average age of vehicles, and the number of miles they're driven, figure to keep rising. In part, a spokesman for IHS Markit said, that's because vehicles are better now, often going 200,000 miles—rarer a couple of decades ago.
All the effects of the pandemic are tough to predict, analysts said. Ride sharing and public transportation, including airlines, could suffer, pushing people to drive more. More road trips and other personal use could make up for the drop in miles driven for daily commutes as people continue working from home, the IHS analyst said. And it's not just the pandemic coming into play; people tend to hold onto their cars longer during a recession. Repair shops could benefit, especially as warranties run out. New-car prices have not been affected by the jump in unemployment yet. The average sale of a light vehicle was $38,530 in June, 3.1% higher than last year, Kelley Blue Book reports. But a forecast involving JD Power predicts a drop of more than 16% in sales this month over last July, per Aftermarket News. (Read more auto industry stories.)