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Average Age of Cars in Great Britain

In many developed economies like the UK, US, Australia and the rest of the EU, the average age of vehicles on the road has increased over the last decade. This is due to a number of factors, such as longer usable lives as car technology and manufacturing processes continue to improve, plus new car sales slumped with the financial crisis of 2008.

Britain also is seeing consumers driving fewer miles per year which generally means cars can last longer. We’ve analysed data from the Department of Transport to see how the average age of cars on the road in Great Britain has changed over time.

Average Age of Cars in Great Britain and the UK

We found that the average age of cars in Great Britain and the UK in 2016 was 8 years old. With data for Great Britain going back to 1994, we calculated this age is 12% older than the average age of cars over the past 20 years. This significant increase can be explained in large part by two factors: high car sales in the early 2000’s and a subsequent drop in car sales both leading up to and following the financial crisis of 2008. The financial crisis suppressed demand for new cars. With fewer new cars entering the car population, the average age of cars increased steadily over the past decade.

0-1 Years1-2 Years2-3 Years3-4 Years4-6 Years6-13 Years13+ YearsUnknown Age
19948.1%7.7%6.9%6.7%18.0%44.3%6.3%2.0%
19958.1%8.2%7.6%6.6%14.8%45.8%6.9%2.0%
19968.2%7.9%7.8%7.1%12.6%46.0%8.3%2.0%
19978.6%8.0%7.7%7.4%13.0%44.1%9.1%2.0%
19988.7%8.4%7.9%7.4%14.0%41.9%9.4%2.2%
19998.6%8.6%8.3%7.6%14.4%40.6%9.6%2.3%
20008.8%8.5%8.5%8.0%14.6%39.5%9.7%2.3%
20019.6%8.6%8.2%8.1%15.0%38.2%10.0%2.3%
20029.7%9.3%8.3%7.8%15.4%36.9%10.2%2.3%
20039.3%9.5%9.0%7.9%15.3%36.9%9.7%2.4%
20048.8%9.1%9.3%8.7%15.2%37.8%8.8%2.4%
20058.2%8.8%8.9%9.0%16.2%38.5%8.1%2.4%
20067.7%8.2%8.7%8.7%17.3%39.2%7.9%2.3%
20077.7%7.7%8.1%8.4%17.2%40.6%8.0%2.3%
20086.9%7.9%7.8%7.9%16.8%42.4%8.2%2.1%
20096.6%7.0%7.9%7.6%16.2%44.1%8.6%2.0%
20106.6%6.5%6.9%7.7%15.2%45.7%9.2%2.0%
20116.3%6.6%6.5%6.8%15.1%46.9%9.9%1.9%
20126.6%6.3%6.6%6.3%14.3%47.4%10.8%1.8%
20137.3%6.5%6.2%6.3%12.8%47.3%11.9%1.7%
20147.8%7.1%6.3%5.8%12.2%45.5%13.5%1.6%
20158.1%7.6%6.9%6.0%11.7%42.9%15.3%1.5%
20168.1%7.9%7.4%6.6%11.5%40.5%16.6%1.4%

This trend of increasing average car ages over the last few years in Great Britain and the UK can be attributed to several factors. First, consumers are driving less - fewer miles mean less wear and tear on cars. Second, cars are generally becoming more reliable, aging more gracefully than they did in the past. And finally, car owners are perhaps becoming more budget-conscious, holding off a bit longer before upgrading to a newer model.

The UK is not the only country with an aging car population. Other developed countries are seeing a similar drift. For instance, the average age of cars in the EU as a whole was 10.7 years in 2015, up from 8.4 years in 2007.

More Brits are Driving Older Cars

While cars aged older than 13 make up only a small percentage of the total vehicle population in Great Britain, we noticed that the number of car owners choosing to hold on to their cars beyond 13 years old has increased steadily from only 6.3% in 1994 to 16.6% in 2016. The number of cars aged 13 years old or more in Great Britain has increased nearly fourfold since 1994, a dramatic rise with over 5 million cars older than 13 on the road today.