Among many profound lifestyle changes that we all endured in 2020, Americans drove quite a lot less and scrapped their old cars more – about 5 percent of the total US fleet went to the junkyard in 2020. That move had an unusual effect, though. Here in the States, our transition into pandemic life led to an increase in the average age of our vehicles to a record-setting high of 12.1 years.
You’d be led to believe that scrapping so many vehicles would lower the average vehicle age. To offer some perspective, 15 million vehicles were scrapped in 2020 while vehicle miles traveled declined by 13 percent. Sure, discarding such a staggering amount of vehicles would normally lower the average age, but the combination of distance traveled and the chip shortage led to the contrary.
Gallery: 10 Most Popular Used Cars During The COVID-19 Recovery Phase
Keen readers will know that these manufacturing difficulties led to new vehicles skyrocketing in price – if you could even get your hands on one. This meant that more people than ever opted to purchase a used car. Even with buyers pivoting towards the used market, pre-owned vehicles weren't immune from similar price hikes.
Unfortunately, many automakers are currently struggling with more than just chip shortages. GM recently suspended orders for its 2021 C8 Chevrolet Corvette amidst another parts shortage. Details remain sparse, but we know that Chevrolet won’t reach its original production goal for 2021 – the aim is to ensure that 2022 models will roll out on schedule.
Thankfully, vehicle age is forecasted to go back to normal later this year after owners trade in their current set of wheels for a newer model. Until then, the market will remain the oldest it's ever been.