The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) conducts a triennial survey of the Washington area vehicle fleet. In November they released the third in this series (2005, 2008, 2011).
Among the findings was data that showed the average age of vehicles in the DC area is going up; that is, cars are getting older. Here are the average age of passenger vehicles (light-duty vehicles are regular cars while light-duty trucks are SUVs and pickup trucks):
Year Light-duty vehicles Light-duty trucks
2005 8.23 years 7.06 years
2008 8.51 7.53
2011 9.25 8.55
The average age for cars has increased a full year since 2005 and the average age for SUVs has increased 1 1/2 years over the same time. It is likely that the recession has had a strong influence on people's interest in and ability to purchase new cars, a likely factor in the increasing age of the fleet.
The older fleet of cars has a negative impact on air quality, which is why MWCOG collects this information. MWCOG is responsible for developing the plans for the DC Metro area to meet its air quality obligations under the Clean Air Act. Knowing the age of the fleet allows them to more accurately model air emissions.
There are two ways the older fleet has a negative impact on air quality:
- New cars generally have better and newer emissions reduction technologies compared to older cars,
- As cars age they also tend to become somewhat less efficient, both for fuel efficiency and for their ability to reduce air pollutants.
Steve Offutt, Arlington