Home » The Average Car In America Is A 14-Year-Old Toyota Camry

The Average Car In America Is A 14-Year-Old Toyota Camry

Tmd Average Camry Ts
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I love numbers, and this Morning Dump is going to tickle my inner Count as we look at what and why Americans are keeping on the road these days. The average American passenger car is now a record 14 (ha ha ha) years old according to a report. The average vehicle (i.e. not just car) isn’t quite that old, though cars are still aging gracefully.

Here’s another number for you: 25 (ha ha ha). That’s the percentage one group is suggesting in tariffs for American cars sold in China, as a sort of retaliatory measure. And speaking of China, our favorite Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares is back and his view is: If you can’t beat’em, join’em. I mean, why can’t we all just get along?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

And, finally, Stellantis gets into another fight with the Italian government because it’s a day ending in “y.” How many cars are caught up in this battle? 134 (ha ha ha).

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to The Morning Dump?

[Ed Note: Uh…anyone else wondering what’s with the laugh track? -DT]

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Cars Are So Old! (How Old Are They?)

Average vehicle age chart

Cars are so old that if you ask the average car on the road in America what its favorite show is, the answer is: Yellowstone. That’s old. [Ed Note: Wait, hold on. Where’d the laugh track go? Does the audience only laugh at numbers? I’m so confused. -DT].

Every year S&P Global puts out data on the average age of cars, light trucks, and both combined. Last year there were 286 [Ed note: … I just… -DT] million vehicles in operation, or a little less than one for every person. A lot of attention is paid to the topline number, and that’s important. If you look at the purple (combined), you’ll see the average age of the passenger vehicle is 12.6 years, which is two months older than last year.

Some of the reasons for this are obvious. The years 2015-2019 were boom years in the car market with a lot of new vehicles getting sold in the United States. The pandemic meant a shortage of most models and, with less new car inventory, the rate at which new cars entered the market slowed. We’re now getting back to more normalized inventories, but high interest rates and economic uncertainty are keeping new buyers out of the market.

New cars are also quite reliable compared to the past, and full of safety features, meaning it’s not quite as big of a deal to keep a vehicle a little longer.

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But there’s a bigger factor in cars being older, which you can see in the bifurcation that happened around 2016-2017 in the chart above. That’s when the SUV/Crossover craze, which was already chugging along, started to factor strongly into the calculations

As S&P points out in their report:

Looking at the mix of the fleet, since 2020, more than 27 million passenger cars exited the US vehicle population, while just over 13 million new passenger cars were registered. At the same time, over 26 million light trucks (including utilities) were scrapped and nearly 45 million were registered.

“Consumers have continued to demonstrate a preference for utility vehicles and manufacturers have adjusted their portfolio accordingly, which continues to reshape the composition of the fleet of vehicles in operation in the market,” said Campau.

As fewer and fewer people buy cars, and as fewer and fewer automakers even sell cars, that thick vein of old Camrys and Civics will continue trudging along forever in the secondhand market, but the original owners are moving onto RAV-4s and HR-Vs.

To justify my headline, the best-selling car in America in 2010 (14 years ago) was the Toyota Camry by a large margin, ahead of the Accord and Civic. I don’t have specific numbers on what is or isn’t in the fleet of 286 million cars out there, but those old Toyotas are everywhere and I don’t see a lot of Fusions from that era.

Chinese Think Tank Wants 25% Tariff On Imported Cars With Big Engines

Mercedes China
Source: MB

The United States has already instituted a 100% tariff on Chinese-built EVs, which is not many cars in the grand scheme of things. While this move makes the Chinese government deeply unhappy, we weren’t the immediate target of expansion for Chinese EV automakers. That would be Europe, where a mix of protectionism and discontent with Chinese foreign policy has the EU considering bigger tariffs on imported Chinese EVs.

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If you don’t believe me, China was willing to raise the cost of importing French cognac until France’s President Macron personally intervened.

Now, China has its sights on something bigger according to a report (via Reuters) from one of China’s official government think tanks:

“The suggested tariff rate adjustment for imported gasoline sedans and sport utility vehicles with engines larger than 2.5 liters is not only in line with WTO rules,” Liu of government-affiliated CATARC told the state-controlled newspaper.

He said it would also help balance domestic and international markets and support a policy push towards green and low-carbon development.

The French dodged a bullet here, as that’s clearly aimed at German automakers, who are the main importers of cars with engines bigger than 2.5 liters into China. Think: Porsche Cayennes, Mercedes S-Classes, Audi Q8s, BMW X5s, et cetera.

I enjoy the concept of China claiming that this policy is about the environment and not a threat of retaliation to Germany.

Carlos Tavares: Maybe We Should Just Join Up With China

Devil Lovitz Tavares
Source: SNL

Our favorite auto industry leader, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, sat down at the Reuters Events “Automotive Europe” conference in Munich (he’s pictured above answering questions). He had a lot of things to say, including that he expected a bunch of turmoil and job losses from an invasion of cheap Chinese EVs but, at the same time, that tariffs are “a major trap” for those countries.

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Why? Inflation, for one, but also that he thinks automakers need to undergo tough restructuring and countries need to face the reality of a reshaped workforce.

“We are not talking about a Darwinian period, we are in it,” Tavares told Reuters.

Here’s what stuck out to me:

The Stellantis-Leapmotor joint venture, the first one between a Western and a Chinese carmaker designed to sell and produce EVs from a Chinese manufacturer outside China, will help the Franco-Italian group expand its global offerings of budget vehicles.

“We will try to be Chinese ourselves, which means instead of being purely defensive vis-à-vis the Chinese offensive, we want to be part of the Chinese offensive,” Tavares said.

That’s a bold move, Carlos. Let’s see if it pays off.

The Leapmotor T03 is a compelling little car and, while we don’t have specific pricing for it yet, it’ll probably be one of the cheapest cars for sale in Europe when it does go on sale this year, depending on tariffs/duties/et cetera.

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Italy Seizes 134 Fiat Topolinos Over Tiny Italian Flag

Fiat Tipolino

The ongoing row between Stellantis and Italy is extremely amusing to me. At its core, the issue is that Italy is pissy that the company that was once Fiat (and then Fiat Chrysler) is now more French than Italian. The country wants Stellantis to make Fiats in Italy and Stellantis wants to make money by building cars… probably elsewhere.

Most recently, this blew up when Italy got mad at Alfa Romeo for calling a car not built in Italy the Milano. The response from Stellantis was super catty and the Alfa Romeo CEO openly trolled Italy’s government.

Italy has yet again struck back, this time sending customs police in the port town of Livorno to seize 134 copies of the cute Fiat Topolino. Why? From Italy’s La Repubblica:

The reason for the operation? On the sides they had stickers with the Italian flag, which is why the soldiers of the yellow flames and the officials of the state body challenged Stellantis, the Italian-French company, for the fallacious indication of the origin of the product. It was not “made in Italy”, but manufactured in Morocco and arrived in Tuscany on a freight ship.

My Italian is a little rusty so I relied on Google Translate, which did a great job here I think.

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The issue is this little flag right here:

Fiat Italy Sticker

This isn’t an Italian-built car so it doesn’t get an Italian flag. Seems fair to me.

Stellantis resolved the issue by removing the stickers.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

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I drove to the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago all the way from Houston to see Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, and a few others. In the middle of one of the days, Pitchfork put Beach House on one stage and Washed Out on the other stage at the same time. The Venn diagram of Beach House/Washed out fans was, as my friend Dan pointed out to me, a perfect circle. As if this wasn’t already strange programming, the festival followed up Beach House with freakin’ Lightning Bolt! No one stayed. Everyone bolted to Local Natives because the Venn diagram of Beach House/Lightning Bolt fans is just two circles very far apart.

The Big Question

Do you have a car-car. How old is it?

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Aerostarman89
Aerostarman89
1 month ago

I drive a “car car” a 2012 Fusion with 2.5L. Reliable, boring and paid off. My wife’s daily is a 2015 RAV4. Including my 94′ F-150 my fleet average is 17 without 10.5 years.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
1 month ago

My three vehicles (2019, 2017, 2002) includes a car-car and a car-wagon. And at 11.3 years old, my fleet is better (worse?) than average!

JShaawbaru
JShaawbaru
1 month ago

Almost my whole fleet is made up of car-cars!

2010 335d, definitely a car
1991 Miata, definitely a car
1995 Alto Works, very small but still a car
2007 Prius, looks like an egg but is probably a car
2005 9-2x, lifted, so almost a crossover, but still probably a car
2004 Silverado, definitely NOT a car

SkaterDad
SkaterDad
1 month ago

Currently have 3 car-cars, and hope to always have some! Really hate driving cross-overs and big SUVs. We also have an Odyssey for family hauling, but it rarely gets driven.

2001 Miata for me
2018 Tesla Model 3 for DD abuse
2014 VW Beetle for my daughter to abuse

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 month ago

I think I have a car-car, it’s a Bolt(not EUV), but it’s an EV, is that a car? I don’t know anymore, compared to my motorcycle and truck it looks fairly car-like.

SkaterDad
SkaterDad
1 month ago
Reply to  Fuzzyweis

I’d count it! Had a 2020 Bolt for a bit, and it’s a very solid hatchback car-car

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

I am both a Lightning Bolt and a Beach House fan so there’s that. I like Local Natives but there’s no way I would leave a Lightning Bolt show. Those guys are nuts.

Edit: I thought about it more, and Lightning Bolt at a festival seems… I don’t know, a little odd. More of a band you want to see at a sketchy club.

Edit to the edit: I have a van. It’s 4 years old, and I bought it used a little over a year ago. Despite it being a Chrysler, if it manages to act like it’s not a Chrysler, I plan on keeping it forever.

Last edited 1 month ago by Taargus Taargus
VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

I do not have a “car-car”. Prius v is “compact MPV”. Dunno how you’d count it. Certainly low to the ground like most sedans, but not a sedan in profile.

2012 model, so roughly within the next year it’ll pass to taking that combined age up rather than down.

If I ever do grab a used conversion van, it will decisively be dragging that average age up.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 month ago

My daily is a 2022 Hyundai, because work won’t pay mileage reimbursement on anything older than 4 years- BUT, I pretty much just use it for work, to try and keep the miles off it, since I’m going to have to trade it in before too long to stay in compliance (approximately 20,000-24,000 business miles a year on that one, very little personal).

So, my “personal” daily is a 2008 Crown Victoria with 160,000 miles, I’ve put about 15,000 on that in the past 11 months. It’s a fantastic road trip car and (knock on wood) has been dead reliable. I try to use that for my non-work use as much as possible

Also have a 1964 Chevy, but that only gets driven 5 or 6k a year now, very much a 3rd car, but I’ll take it on longer road trips if I’m driving through some interesting areas and the weather is actually going to be dry and decent, which has been rare this year so far

Last edited 1 month ago by Ranwhenparked
Doug Kretzmann
Doug Kretzmann
1 month ago

two car-cars in the fleet, 2003 WRX daily driver for my son, 2009 Honda Fit daily driver for the other one. About 140k each, both still running well. The WRX needs weekly assistance with engine codes and weird glitches, the Honda has routine maintenance about once a year. The WRX has not yet broken down as such but it’s needed remedial work every day of its life with us since 2019.. I’ve never been able to fix all the things wrong with it, not for even one day.

Freddy Bartholomew
Freddy Bartholomew
1 month ago

Only putting on a few miles per year on my 2004 Acura TL since retirement in 2019. I have a calendar reminder to drive it. The 2001 Toyota Highlander gets routine grocery, gravel, lumber, and compost hauling duties. It gets a good airing out after the latter. Both have relatively low mileage (<130K and <180K, respectively). Both are green!

Cyko9
Cyko9
1 month ago

My car is 19 years old with ~170k miles, and I just did a round of maintenance last year that should keep it rolling for a while. Damn, I just remembered I need to charge the AC though. My newer vehicle is only 3 years old, so my blended average is 11 – not bad!

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago

1994 (210k), 2006(180k), 2012(246k).

The 2006 BMW is the only one I question the reliability of, even though it is easily the most maintained car. The 2012 Caddy just drives and drives. The 1994 Toyota Pickup just hauls dirt, rocks, and garbage, and rarely leaves town, and is also the most reliable.

Average…. uhhhh, 20 years (212k).

BexleySpeed
BexleySpeed
1 month ago

My beater is a 25 year old Camry with about 80k on it. And I do party like it’s 1999 in there. Last year I had a town cop driving the opposite direction, pull up inches from my window to ask if I wanted to sell it.

Ottomadiq
Ottomadiq
1 month ago

ya know… if they just spaced out the colors it wouldnt be a flag, but everyone would know what the colors mean. Come at me, Italy!

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
1 month ago

Assuming a wagon is a car-car, I drive a 2019 that’ll be 5 in ~2 months.

I’ve got about 10 years for the market to shift again. Because I park on the street in Pittsburgh and mostly drive on potholed city streets.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
1 month ago

4 more months and my newest car is old enough to drink and I can stop searching for ethanol free fuel to feed it 🙂

Joseph Kinney
Joseph Kinney
1 month ago

My daily is a ’12 300. 197k. Needs exhaust, brakes, windshield and some cosmetic work. I am torn between repairing or replacing.

The Dude
The Dude
1 month ago

My semi-daily driver is 18 years old with 125k miles on the clock and it’s going strong, looks great, and as a well optioned model it’s still very nice.

The other, a van, is now 8 years old with 65k miles. We bought it 3 years ago with just a touch under 30k miles and racked up a ton between road trips and it being our only car until last year. It too is well optioned so we’re perfectly happy with it (ok, the tech sucks and unlike the other car I can’t upgrade the head unit) and could see getting another 5 or 6 years before downsizing to something smaller.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago

My “new” car is a 2013 4Runner with 173K miles, the around town beater/beach car is a ’07 Volvo XC70 with 233k, and the “fun” car is a 2000 Firebird Formula (LS1, T-Tops).

The fun car is off the road and hasn’t been driven since 2022, I’m considering getting it back on the road this summer. It’s got the lowest mileage, around 135K if I remember right. It was actually my DD for a number of years.

I keep mine long because I’m cheap and hate car shopping. Buying a car gives me anxiety, I don’t even especially like the 4R, but I have no desire to go through the buying process anytime soon. It’s reliable and does what I need it to do, anything that checks all those boxes is going to be out of my budget, or just as old and probably less reliable.

I think a factor could be that 12-year-old cars have a lot of features that are still considered modern, so they feel less old than a 12-year-old car did in 2012. They’re kind of in the sweet spot of having tech, but not being absolutely loaded up with it, which some people dislike.

Also, remote work may be a factor. I know someone who was thinking about replacing his aging Malibu (non-car person), but then got a fully remote job, so he decided to keep it and not spend the money on a new vehicle. His wife has a fairly new car they use when they’re together, his car is basically just for running errands or getting to the golf course.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago

The youngest of my vehicles is 20 years old, though if I include all the vehicles in my household, the average age is 14 so the data above checks out.

TheBadGiftOfTheDog
TheBadGiftOfTheDog
1 month ago

Oof. Calculator time. For the last decade, the average age for my vehicles has been 1991. That did change recently, so now the average age of my vehicles is 2000.
Time marches on.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 month ago

Childish, jealous tariffs like that don’t help or bring back jobs. The other countries just retaliate with their own tariffs, duh. We need to drop the childish tariffs (except the original 2.5% one) and sign on to the UNECE standards. Time to harmonize. Mexico accepts both US and Euro standards.

If Stellantis is joining up with them, it means Leapmotor is the worst of the Chinese EV field. Stellantis seems to be the dump for all the shittiest cars, just add the British LOL

They should make the Topolino in Hungary and turn the flag sideways 😛

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 month ago

Just bought a nicely maintained 2016 Toyota Camry XLE with 84k miles. Was looking at same and newer aged RAV4 and CR-V, but spending $4-5K more for similar age, condition and miles just didn’t seem like a smart financial decision. Still, at $17.4 OTD it seemed expensive. I’ll probably feel better about it 6 years down the road, assuming it displays the famed Toyota reliability.

The DFW metro area seemed to have lower advertised prices, but holy smokes do they like their ‘adds’. The four quotes for vehicles in at area yielded between $767 to a little north of $2300 of adds.

Last edited 1 month ago by Der Foo
Stryker_T
Stryker_T
1 month ago

My daily is going to be 20yrs old next year and tbh unless something catastrophic happens, I’m not planning on getting rid or replacing it. It’s reliable and doesn’t need anything more than basic maintenance.
I also have a motorcycle that’s 10yrs old now (!) and it also has no issues going on or wanting to replace it with anything new.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago
Reply to  Stryker_T

This is where I’m at. My daily is about to turn 21 (date of manufacture is September 2003), and while it needs a few wear items replaced (the factory shocks are finally in need of replacement), the thought of getting rid of it is repellent. When I do think about what I’d want to replace it with, it is always the facelifted version of what I already, which is almost as old.

M K
M K
1 month ago

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while and this article provides a bit of perspective. We really should be performing crash and emission testing on “The Average Car”. It would be a great data point to see how well a 2010 Toyota Camry has held up in these areas compared with both original 2010 data and the equivalent modern car. Maybe test 3 vehicles to get a spectrum based on condition (poor, fair, excellent). I live in the rust belt and I cringe at some of the structural rust issues I see here. Perhaps it would shed some light on the societal cost of using huge amounts of road salt as well.

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