Pandemic pushes average age of American cars to record 12.1 years

High prices and low miles mean more people are hanging on

The average age of the U.S. automobile fleet hit a record 12.1 years in 2020 due to a confluence of factors caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Phoenix, Arizona - April9, 2019: Rush hour traffic jam and cityscape skyline in the city core of Phoenix Arizona USA. Phoenix is the capital and most populous city in Arizona (iStock)

According to the annual study from market research firm IHS Markit, the figure was up from a previous record of 11.9 in 2019.

A low supply of new cars due to production cuts during last year's lockdowns and the ongoing semiconductor shortage coupled with a rise in the prices of both new and used cars and a reduction in miles-driven last year all contributed to some Americans hanging on to their cars longer than ever, Reuters reported.

However, the IHS study predicts that the average age may decline this year as the market begins to return to normal.


A recent report from Manheim found the average wholesale price of used cars hit an all-time record $20,260 in May and doesn't expect price pressures to ease up until late summer.