Aging Cars Show Why Automakers Push for EV

Latest auto ownership data will come as a worry to carmakers and also an added impetus to get more consumers into electric vehicles.

IHS Markit research of the US domestic market shows the typical vehicle on the road is now 11.8 years old, having increased an average of 4% over the last five years. At the same time the number of vehicles on the US highway network hit an all-time high with more than 278M in regular use.

The analyst suggests two main reasons for this including improvements in quality of build allowing a longer ownership period and that car loan periods have become longer often stretching for six or even seven years, giving owners an incentive to keep their vehicles for longer.

So, it’s little surprise that automakers are becoming increasingly frantic in their efforts to get consumers out of well-built ICE powered vehicles that are cheap and easy to keep running with the right amount of traditional servicing and into electric vehicles that have a finite lifespan. I say finite because many currently being marketed have battery packs that are not designed for easy swap-outs and would entail the vehicle being scrapped when the batteries have lost so much range as to be uneconomical to keep going.

We know many BEV makers are offering seven or eight year nearly 100,000-mile battery pack warranties but only for up to 70% of performance. It’s, therefore, possible to surmise that the automakers hope this will be the effective life of the vehicle an that’s a big improvement on the current nearly 12 years expected ownership.

It’s also possible to imagine that, with BEVs enjoying many fewer moving parts than an ICE powertrain, servicing incentives may fade from the owner’s minds and chassis items, such as steering and suspension, may see less attention, accelerating the replacement of the vehicle.

While this may all seem hunky-dory for automakers and suppliers in the industry dependent of vehicle churn, it does raise the specter of what happens if the consumer gets wise to the push towards EVs? Possibly the industry will become much more reliant on regulators banning ICE powertrains in certain environments such as cities to achieve its goal to maintain profitability in the future. Now that’s not a healthy place to be for anyone in the free world.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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