Covid-19 oddity: dirtier, older cars, trucks

James Raia

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in a microchip shortage and higher used truck and car prices.

The automotive industry has been affected as much many as other major industries by Covid-19, including an increase in the average age of vehicles in the road.

If the prediction holds, the average age of cars, trucks and RVs still on road will soon surpass 12 years — the highest level among American drivers in nearly two decades — according to industry analysts.

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in more used car and trucks on the road.
The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in more used cars and trucks on the road.

The current rate is 11.9 years, a slight increase from 2018 reports IHS Market Ltd., the England-based global data company.

While vehicle longevity was increasing before the pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis has resulted in further economic decision-making.

Covid-19 could be a boom for auto repair shops

As a result of keeping vehicles longer, emissions and safety issues increases, but part manufacturers and repair companies could see an increase in business.

“We definitely expect to eclipse the 12-year barrier,” said Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions for IHS Markit. “People working from home could put fewer miles on vehicles, allowing them to last longer.”

The average age of cars and light trucks has been increasing steadily for nearly 20 years, reflecting rising prices for new vehicles and improved durability. It allows older vehicles to travel more miles with more owners before they are scrapped.

The aging U.S. vehicle fleet has been an issue as U.S. lawmakers have debated economic stimulus plans.

Proposals to provide government-funded incentives to retire older, more polluting vehicles, or encourage drivers to get new vehicles with more advanced safety technology have not proven popular.

Manufacturers of repair parts and vehicle repair shops should benefit from America’s aging and expanding vehicle fleet, IHS Markit forecast. The United States has more than 280 million vehicles on the road.

Article Last Updated: March 1, 2021.

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