US consumers keep vehicles for a record 12.5 years on average -S&P

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By Paul Lienert

(Reuters) – Americans in the waning days of the COVID pandemic are keeping their combustion-engine vehicles longer, according to a new study.

The average age of U.S. cars and light trucks this year climbed to a record 12.5 years, reflecting the impact of supply constraints on dealer inventories of new vehicles in 2022, as well as reduced consumer demand from higher inflation and interest rates, according to the study by S&P Global Mobility.

Despite six straight years of increases, average vehicle age is expected to drop over the coming year as rising availability and renewed demand push new vehicle sales above 14.5 million in 2023, the S&P research said.

Electric vehicles are bucking the aging trend, according to S&P.

The average age of battery electric vehicles (BEV) in the U.S. actually fell to 3.6 years, down slightly from 3.7 years in 2022. That figure has hovered between 3 and 4 years since 2017, the group said.

S&P said rapidly increasing BEV sales in the U.S. β€” up 58% in 2022 β€” are keeping the average age of that sector relatively young, despite the fact that a greater percentage of electric vehicles are leaving the vehicle population, compared with combustion vehicles.

In the 10-year period from 2013-2022, 6.6% of BEVs in operation were pulled out of commission. During the same period, just 5.2% of combustion vehicles left the fleet, S&P said.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit. Editing by Jane Merriman)