What Americans Are Driving: Vehicles in Operation, Used-Vehicle Exports, EVs, and Stuff for Engine Geeks

No, those used vehicle exports are not all going to Mexico. On the contrary.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The number of vehicles of highway-legal light-duty vehicles in operation (VIO) in the US grew by 0.6% year-over-year, or by 1.6 million vehicles, to 284.4 million vehicles, at the end of the second quarter, according to Experian’s quarterly report today, based on registration data.

The net gain of 1.6 million vehicles in operation over the 12-month period is a result of:

  • Added: 13.5 million new vehicles registered – down from about 17 million or more during a decent year, when supply chains were functional and vehicle production didn’t get waylaid by chip shortages.
  • Removed: 11.9 million vehicles were taken out of operation, either by being salvaged; or by being exported to other countries. More on used-vehicle exports in a moment.

Used vehicle exports from the US to the rest of the world.

According to the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, 933,435 used vehicles were exported to other countries in the calendar year 2021, after the plunge in exports in 2020. In the data going back to 2008, the record was set in 2019, with exports of nearly 1 million used vehicles:

No, they’re not all going to Mexico. On the contrary.

Mexico has become an auto-manufacturing powerhouse. Some of the vehicles are built for export to the US and other countries. Other vehicles – often lower-priced models with fewer features – are built for sale in Mexico. These new vehicles built in Mexico for Mexico are feeding the used vehicle market in Mexico.

US exports of used vehicles to Mexico have declined over the years, from their heyday in 2014 of 110,000 vehicles to 66,800 vehicles in 2021, now representing only 7% of total used vehicle exports (red line in the chart below).

Among the top 10 destination countries in 2021 for used vehicles exports by the US is Germany where muscle cars have a presence, but only a tiny one, compared to the huge market of the country. But other countries on the list have small used-vehicle markets – such as the Dominican Republic or Lithuania – and US exports play are larger role in their local markets:

Used Vehicle Exports, Top 10 Destinations
United Arab Emirates 109,715
Nigeria 108,014
Ukraine 106,489
Georgia 69,602
Mexico 66,848
Dominican Rep. 38,121
Oman 33,123
Guatemala 29,209
Lithuania 29,030
Germany 28,517

These are the top 10 destination countries of US used vehicle exports in 2021, and how those exports fared in prior years.

The UAE (top black line) has been one of the dominant destinations for US used vehicles throughout those years. Oman (yellow line) came out of nowhere to turn into the seventh largest destination over the past five years:

Vehicles in Operation by Automaker:

Of the 284.4 vehicles in operation, 21.6% were GM vehicles by Q2, same as in the prior year. Ford’s share dipped to 16.3% (from 16.4% in the prior year). Toyota’s share rose to 14.6% (from 14.5% in the prior year).

Tesla, which started mass-producing vehicles only over the past few years, still doesn’t have enough vehicles on the road in the US to figure into this table with its own name plate and is included in “Other manufacturers.”

Battery-electric vehicles (EVs).

In terms of new vehicle sales, EVs are the one segment that is growing in leaps and bounds with huge percentage growth rates, even as sales of ICE vehicles have declined.

In California, where Teslas are made, EV sales made up 15% of total new-vehicle sales in the first half of 2022, up from a 9.5% share in 2021 and a 6.2% share in 2020.

And now that Teslas are made in Texas as well, it will be interesting to see how sales are going there.

But EVs are a recent development. In total, there are only 1.8 million EVs on the road, for a still minuscule share of 0.63% of the 284.4 million vehicles in operation. It will take many years of massive sales growth before EVs make up a significant portion of the total fleet on the road.

Segments of Vehicles in Operation.

Of the 284.4 million vehicles in operation, full-size pickups alone had the largest share of 16.3%, followed by mid-size cars – the mainstay of rental fleets – with a share of 14.1%. Overall, of all VIO:

  • Passenger cars: 37.2%
  • SUVs, compact SUVs, and crossovers: 36.1%
  • Light trucks: 26.7%

For engine geeks.

Of the VIO with internal combustion engines:

  • Naturally aspirated: 81.6%
  • Turbo-charged (incl. multiple turbos), supercharged, and “other”: 18.4%

Cylinder market share:

  • 4-cylinder: 42.6%
  • 6-cylinder: 33.8%
  • 8-cylinder: 20.9%
  • Remainder: 2.7%. Vehicles with V-16, W-16, V-12, V-10, 5-cylinder, and 3-cylinder engines. Plus, some classics with 2-cylinder engines, including Trabi, Citroën 2CV, and Fiat 500 (not sure how many of them are “highway legal” tho).

Average age of vehicles in operation.

The average age of all cars and light trucks in operation in 2022 rose to a new record of 12.2 years, according to separate data, which I discussed in May when it came out.

Miles driven.

Total miles driven, according the Federal Highway Administration, was up just a tad from 2019 levels, following the plunge in 2020 and the subsequent recovery. This includes all motor vehicle traffic, including commercial trucks and delivery vehicles. The chart shows the 12-month moving average to eliminate the large seasonal variations.

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  158 comments for “What Americans Are Driving: Vehicles in Operation, Used-Vehicle Exports, EVs, and Stuff for Engine Geeks

  1. freewary says:

    I’m going to do my part to reduce these figures by 1. My car went to the shop for routine maintenance and prices there have doubled. Along with the prices of everything else doubling- if unable to double my income this year, I’m cutting way back.

    • Brooks says:

      Great time to learn to do your own “routine maintenance”

      • MiTurn says:

        Agrees. And many public libraries stock diy manuals.

        You might not be able to do all repairs, but many of them.

      • TonyT says:

        Youtube and dedicated websites are great resources, especially if you have a car beloved by enthusiasts.

        • nefff says:

          I wouldnt rely on youtube for a novice, many , many bad advice vids …50% garbage imo

        • Greg Hamilton says:

          If you have a Toyota, The Car Care Nut on youtube has some excellent videos for DIY. He has helped me a bunch. If you have a BMW FCP Euro has a great channel. You “can” change your own oil on a BMW it’s actually not too difficult.

          I don’t know if I’m allowed to recommend people like this, but they both have helped me immensely.

      • freewary says:

        Doing my own maintenance on cars is actually more expensive because my hourly pay is higher than what the shop charges. Right now I just value my financial goals above keeping a car that is becoming a bigger liability due to inflation.

        Also, I have found that walking/biking/skating is a terrific alternative to driving. And guess what the average speed in a car is around my town anyway – 20 MPH after you factor in traffic jams and stops. So skating or biking at 10-15 MPH isn’t really that much slower to save a lot of $ and get a great workout. Also, I found that there’s maybe once or twice a month I still have a trip that can’t do with human power, no prob – I use a taxi/rideshare. Taxi a few times a month is much cheaper than paying upkeep on my own car.

        HOWEVER I don’t expect frugality to save me or anyone else from the crooked corrupt people running the govt and the unconstitutional FED. END THE FED before the kills us all.

        • Bam_Man says:

          The fact that the dollar has lost 98% of its value since the Federal Reserve was created – while in the entire century prior, inflation was effectively non-existent – is just another “conspiracy theory”.

        • freewary says:

          Depends how you define and measure inflation. Most people prefer to use measures that make it seem less severe than it really is.

        • Bubba says:

          Next time you go on vacation, make sure to add up all of that time multiplied by your hourly rate in addition to the hotel and flight. Ouch! That was one expensive trip.

        • Depth Charge says:

          “Doing my own maintenance on cars is actually more expensive because my hourly pay is higher than what the shop charges.”

          No, it’s not. You are not even worth $10 per hour as a mechanic.

    • Bobber says:

      I have to think many people are cutting back spending because of the inflation. I’m not anywhere near poor, because I like to save. I’m doing my own haircuts now, saving $500 a year or so, and saving time as well. We’ve cut way back on any unhealthy treats we used to buy. Bags of chips lost half 30% of the volume but went up 50% in price. Ridiculous. When grocery shopping, we look a lot harder for stuff that is cheaper or on sale. We cut our restaurant dining by more than 50% and enjoy eating healthier food at home. We haven’t done any air travel vacations for two years and don’t miss it. We’re vacationing just as much but to driving vacations in the region. We don’t miss the airports. We also quit the gym membership during the pandemic and never went back. We get along fine with outdoor aerobic exercise and dumbbells at home. We also scaled back clothing purchases and home furnishings.

      We’re driving vehicles that are at least 8 years old, but we have no intention of updating those at today’s runaway prices for new and used vehicles. We’ll run what we have to the ground.

      Such budget tightening isn’t showing in the macro statistics yet, so I assume other people don’t care about inflation and are spending like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a mixed economy, with record income and wealth inequality.

      • Halibut says:

        You’re not alone. Lots of us out here driving our cars as long as possible and watching every penny.

        I cook almost all of our meals for a fraction of eating out. I buy in bulk and package meats with a chamber vacuum packer and freeze.

        I can prepare a steakhouse quality dinner for significantly less than ordering pizza. Of course, it helps to know how to COOK.

        While I’m at it, I put fifteen cents worth of lemon ammonia in a spray bottle and fill the rest with dihydrogen monoxide. “All purpose cleaner” to clean as I go.

        It all adds up.

        Pennies make dollars.

        • drg1234 says:

          +1 for the vacuum packer and freezer. You can save a boatload of money by looking for sale items every time in the grocery store, and buying the larger packages.

          We’ve cut our meat bill by a third, easily.

        • HotTub says:

          I’ve got a 13 year old car in very good condition. No way will I buy another one at today’s prices. I change my own oil and oil filter, along with the car’s engine air filter and the cabin filter.

          I’ve also done an experiment these past 7 months. I wanted to see how much my electric bill dropped by not using my 220v oven or my 220v clothes dryer. Holy moly, my electric bill has dropped by 50%.

          What do I do now?

          Well, I cook my meats (chicken and fish) on my George Forman grill. When I need to boil water to cook my fresh veggies, I use my Presto 6qt Multi-Cooker. Both of these are standard 120v units. Sometimes I use the micro-wave for the bags of steamed veggies that I purchase at Aldi — btw, another cost savings place to save some bucks.

          To dry my laundry, I bought an outdoor rotary clothesline and I let my clothes dry in the sun. I actually like the smell of the air-dried clothes much better than when I used to dry them in the dryer. When winter arrives, I’ll still use it. Hint: I live here in central Florida where, in the winter, we go from green to green, and hot to warm.

          I just can’t believe how much my electric bill has dropped; my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.

        • Anthony says:

          When you look after the pennies the Pounds (dollars) look after themselves….

        • Modern Plebian says:

          From someone who’s always been pretty frugal, no car in the last 20 years, built my own eBike that could go 30mph when my commute got longer, refrigerator outside on porch when practical (requires a multi-thermostat model to keep the freezer frozen), etc.

          I don’t know that avoiding the oven will save you that much energy. Voltage of the appliance determines how quickly it can generate heat, but it will still take the same amount of heat to warm air, water and food. If you enjoy cooking without an oven, that’s great, and pressure cookers do cook faster at higher temperature by retaining more heat that would be lost as steam.

          The clothes dryer is a big one – multiple kilowatts per use. You can dry clothes in freezing weather, on a sunny balcony or in your living room. Just need good air flow and the air to be low humidity. After they’ve hung dry, I put them in the dryer on ‘air fluff’ to work out the stiffness that comes with air drying. Uses a comparatively tiny bit of electricity for the tumbler motor and blower. Just takes a bit more time and effort to string up/extend the drying lines, throw/pin up clothes and pull them down, take down/retract drying lines, if necessary, and you’ve immediately cut out one of the larger energy consumers in the average home.

      • Brant Lee says:

        A lot of us realized during the pandemic just how unthinkingly gluttonous we had been living. Gas prices may be receding, but I’m now in the habit of burning the least possible, no matter what the price.

        The number of vehicles on the road almost matches the U.S. population. I know many people own more than one ride, but it looks good to say “America, a car for every citizen!”

      • LK says:

        I have found over the last few months just how much money I was needlessly spending. Aside from Fixed Costs like rent, I have tackled unnecessary expenses like mobile phone fees. Switching from Verizon to Mint was painless and slashed my bill to a third.

        I now spend more on car insurance and parking than I do gas. If I didn’t need the vehicle, I’d be looking at that expense next.

        • JohnnySacks says:

          Phone, cable, and internet are extortion. Getting my 91 year old dad set up in assisted living is costing $150 a month, it’s a monopoly market. How would municipal services be worse?

          All that money gone towards intangible nothingness.

      • SpencerG says:

        Thank you for your comment. I never really thought about how much money I spend on haircuts in a given year. I am practically bald (the barbers joke that I am the quickest $15 they will make that day)… and if I go every two weeks it adds up to $390 per year.

      • Ian says:

        I think many of us are finding ways to cut and do less, once we start eating worms we will be well on our way to having a great social credit scores.

      • gametv says:

        We decided to not go on vacation this year. We live in Southern California along the coast, that is a vacation spot for most people, so why travel someplace just for the sake of travel. The whole airport experience has become so horrid, it doesnt make sense to me, unless you can spend alot of time at your destination.

    • Seen it all before, Bob says:


    • Morty Mc Mort says:

      We ran some numbers in the research group I work with:
      Monthly Transit Pass
      Average cost of owning and maintaining all aspects of a personal vehicle
      vary – But minimum 12k – 14k per year
      We found that using the Transit/Uber portfolio
      Saved an average of at least 10k AFTER TAX per vehicle every year…

      • Saxons wrath says:

        Proof of study??? Numbers ???
        Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure….

  2. VT says:

    I had to RTGDFA to realize that your chart abbreviation was “Other Manufacturers” and not “Other MFers”. I like other MFers better personally… Tesla may fit that group description well depending on who you ask.

  3. DR DOOM says:

    Ok,somebody needs to step up and snatch the EV bait that Wolf dangled in the article and run with it. I need some entertainment.

    • unamused says:

      Okay, I’ll bite.

      A recent (6 Sept) article in the Daily Mail runs with the headline “Your car could soon run on THIN AIR” by electrolyzing ambient humidity into hydrogen, which would appear to be promising tech if civilization somehow manages to survive the coming collapse.

      The article provides a detailed explanation of the operation of this tech as well as that of the H₂-powered Toyota Mirai. Similar articles elsewhere indicate that the larger mfrs are seriously looking to skip EVs and go straight to H₂, avoiding numerous problems in addition to making TSLA a massive future short opportunity, which won’t be a problem for Elon because he’s headed towards Mars and won’t be coming back.

      The Bentley, nearly 70 years old now, runs on H₂ generated with 19th-century electrolytic methods, excepting the solar panels. Other than the price of Windex and some neatsfoot oil I can’t remember the last time it cost anything to run it, but I’d have to ask my chauffeuse about that to be sure, and no, she does not want to talk to you.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        The problem isn’t the tech. Fuel cells performed super-well in the space program in the 1960s. The problem is H2.

        • unamused says:

          An increasing number of companies would point out that any technical objection which could be raised has already been met, although there are logistical, marketing, and related issues for which resolutions are perfectly feasible, like H₂ availability and politicisation by vested interests, none of which can be usefully debated here. Those persons, companies, and countries that are invested in it seem to be very pleased, so you may like to check with them.

          I’m satisfied that my own investment was made several years ago and that it has easily and rather costlessly exceeded my expectations since then, and that none of it matters in the least in any case.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          In 2000, when I was working on a fuel cell project, United Tech, whose fuel cells powered the Apollo capsules’ and the Space Shuttles’ onboard electrical systems, had an experimental bus that was powered by its new fuel cell. It worked great. The problem was the cost of hydrogen to run it. The guy that was in charge of the program told me that if society wanted zero-emission buses (powered by fuel cells), they would work, and the tech was ready and it was reliable, but they would be very expensive to operate.

          The #1 problem with hydrogen is the amount of energy that it takes to break it from the atoms that it is attached to (such as oxygen or carbon). With electrolysis, you will put more energy into it than you will get out of hydrogen as a fuel. You can also obtain hydrogen by breaking if from carbon (mainly fossil fuels or ammonia), which is an energy-intensive, expensive, and messy process. That’s why hydrogen is so expensive. And those costs are why it still doesn’t make sense as a transportation fuel.

          So now they’re talking about using solar power (electrolysis) to produce hydrogen. But that just diverts solar power from the grid to hydrogen production. And that doesn’t make sense at all.

          BMW had experimental cars with ICE power-trains that had been converted to burning hydrogen, and they ran OK and were very clean. But operating costs were huge, and that program was scuttled.

          BMW, Mercedes and others invested in fuel cell projects (Ballard Power, et al), but went nowhere with it because of the operating costs associated with hydrogen.

          The technical difficulties around hydrogen have been solved by using special materials, fuel tanks that can be pressured up to 10,000 PSI, etc. but all that is VERY expensive.

          It comes all down to costs. How much to you want to pay to drive 40 miles? How much energy do you want to use to obtain the hydrogen to drive 40 miles? The benefit of battery electric vehicles is that the operating costs are far lower than ICE engines. Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles have much higher operating costs than ICE.

          So unless the costs of hydrogen become competitive with electricity, it’s a no-go. Maybe someday. But I’ve been waiting for this for 22 years and it hasn’t happened yet.

        • JohnnySacks says:

          Can’t see why production from steady state solar farms wouldn’t be hard. Saudi Arabian with all that oil wealth capitalizing on broiling sun 365 days a year if they were forward thinking. Scale and distribution, yeah, not easy.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          They would be using the electricity to power their grid and to sell to neighboring countries. Then they can use the electricity to charge the batteries in their vehicles. That’s a lot more cost effective, as explained above, than producing hydrogen to power vehicles.

        • unamused says:

          “With electrolysis, you will put more energy into it than you will get out of hydrogen as a fuel.”

          Which is true of any method of storing electrical energy, like charging a battery. You always get less out than you put in. Cleverly constructed fallacy though.

          But batteries have others limitations that H₂ doesn’t have, which is why the Germans are running H₂ trains, the Dutch are building H₂ ships, and Toyota is selling H₂ cars. As I’ve said, the technical objections have been met.

          But don’t worry. EVs have a massive head start, and it’s not going to matter anyway.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Germans are running battery trains, hybrid electric battery trains. Go check it out. They’re EXPERIMENTING with hydrogen. And fuel costs don’t matter with experiments.

          You need to go Germany at least once in your live and get around by train: most of it is FULLY ELECTRIC. Nothing to do with hydrogen. It’s on the sidelines that are not electrified where they experiment with alternatives to DIESEL — not to electric.

          Your first line comparison is completely nuts — just a BS comparison. Think about it for a minute.

        • OTH says:

          Wolf, I’m not sure of the energy losses with producing hydrogen but it is absolutely true that there are energy losses associated with charging a battery. Whether its a battery for an electric car(the battery heats up to some degree) or the best battery by size we’ve invented yet-pumping water uphill with excess grid energy accounts for something like 95% of our stored energy on earth. You can imagine the losses with that.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          If it costs more energy to produce a gallon of gasoline — from drilling to coming out at the pump — than you get out of a gallon of gasoline, then gasoline would cease to exist as a practical fuel. That’s what hydrogen is.

          Sure, there are some energy losses in the production of gasoline, but in the end you get more energy from a gallon of gasoline than you put into producing it, though some of the energy is lost.

          You people are comparing energy losses from charging a battery to a fuel that costs more energy to produce than you get out of it. This is just stupid. You people need to think about what you’re saying.

        • OTH says:

          I was not trying to compare hyrdogen to EVs joule for joule. I just think its worth broadening our conception of what a battery is. Fossil fuels are a battery that take an awful long time to recharge but we’ve got an awful lot of it, it has pretty great existing infrastructure, and it can power all our great big machines not just cars.
          Hydrogen can be a battery thats expensive to charge but with just a bit of imagination its easy to see it making it’s way to minimally hyrbidizing the diesel fleets that run our supply chains. Obviously easier to do in places where electricity is cheap.
          Lithium batteries are just another sort of battery. Great for most people and I would love one if anyone made a decent EV truck. Try running a skidsteer or a tractor on a battery though, it’ll be a short workday. I’ll stick to my 6.5l Detroit Diesel.
          Additionally, if we put all our eggs in the EV basket we’re relying on a lithium supply chain dominated by countries that are not named America. Given the shenanigans of the past two years I’d prefer nice short supply chains under our umbrella. Maybe I’m dreaming but building out nuclear and hydrogen in tandem sounds awfully good to me.
          No dog in the fight at the end of the day though. Thanks for the great write ups.

      • gametv says:

        The reason electrical power for autos is taking hold is that there is already an electricity distribution grid in place. Hydrogen requires a whole new distribution system, which is why it wont take hold easily.

        Autonomous shared mobility platforms will change absolutely everything. No more insurance, repairs, gas, maintenance, parking space – the cost per mile will absolutely plummet once there is significant competition between numerous shared mobility platforms.

        I think that autonomous shared mobility platforms might be able to create their own refueling and thus, hydrogen might be a feasible fuel source.

        • OTH says:

          All this may be true to an extent in densely populated areas but as soon as you get to the exurbs and rural areas of which there are many in this country the demand for ‘shared’ (owned by corporations) plummets. I’m supposed to wait my turn to use the community plow truck?
          Otherwise, hyrdogen requires electricity to produce it and we have the grid already as you’ve noted. Who says we only need centralized hydrogen production?

    • freewary says:

      Electric cars are 0.63%, at what % do electric cars take the grid down?

      • Harvey Mushman says:

        In SoCal… probably 0.631%

      • SWE Josh says:

        Having lived through multiple hurricanes on the east coast I can also tell you that most gas pumps don’t work without electricity and even when there is electricity, gas stations quickly run out of gas during these storms. I’ve seen people drive from NJ through NY to CT to get gas. The current heat dome in CA has nothing to do with EVs.

        EVs can be charged at night when there is less demand for electricity. This grid BS is a red herring.

        • Bobby Dale says:

          Broken Record time:
          You can not evacuate for a hurricane in an EV and if you stay how will you charge it after the storm passes?
          For example last year Ida hit Louisiana, on the day before the drive from New Orleans to Houston, normally 4-5 hours was clocking in at 18-21 hours. Your EV will not make it and the charging stations will have a line as everyone will need to charge.
          After the storm the most part of south Louisiana was without electricity for over a week, some areas for over a month.
          Imagine this in South Florida or even worse the Chesapeake Bay area.
          (oh and for readers under the age of 40 vinyl records would sometimes develop imperfections and the needle would get stuck in a groove and repeat that segment until acted on by an outside source…a broken record)

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Bobby Dale,

          “Broken Record time:”

          Yes, totally agree, same braindead ignorant broken record every time by people who don’t know squat about EVs. You top off your EV every night in your garage, and in the morning, it is fully charged, every day, and so when the hurricane comes you have a full charge and can go 300 miles or more. Try to do that with your ICE vehicle when you got a quarter tank. If you get stuck, at least with an EV you don’t waste gasoline idling the engine and powering the AC compressor with a V-6. You’ve got a small dedicated electric motor that powers the compressor. Really tiring to have to keep reading the same ignorant BS all the time. Post this BS on the wall in your bathroom next time, not here.

        • SpencerG says:

          Bobby Dale:

          That was a weird storm. New Orleans looked like it got hit by artillery. I had to drive to Shreveport from NOLA about a month after Hurricane Ida hit and the whole state was in tatters.

          As to the drive time… it didn’t help matters that Louisiana didn’t institute Contraflow on its highways.

        • Jos Oskam says:

          When I was young and had just passed my driving test, an old and experienced professional chauffeur impressed upon me to ¨NEVER leave your car with an unfilled tank, son!”. I always remembered that good advice and have been saved by it several times when I unexpectedly needed to get somewhere by car pronto.

          There is a lot to be said pro and contra BE or ICE cars, but arguments like being unable to evacuate sound a bit childish to me. One should simply always take care that a car is ready to depart, be it topped up or fully charged.

        • Phil says:

          What percentage of car owners in the US park their car in a garage with access to electricity? I know there are non braindead arguments as to why infrastructure for electric cars is not pervasive, because right now I am not able to charge my car where I park it, like millions of other Americans. It’s easy to think of the millions of car owners without access to overnight charging if you try.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          “It’s easy to think of the millions of car owners without access to overnight charging if you try.”

          So you’re going to fill up your ICE vehicle overnight while it’s parked on the street in front of your house every night??? Do you see how silly your argument is? You cannot fill up your ice vehicle neither in your garage nor in front of your house nor in the condo parking garage. But you can in many cases with an EV.

          Bobby Dale’s argument was that EVs are useless for evacuation because the battery is always empty or whatever. I shot that down because it’s braindead. You can top off your battery every night with an EV if you have a garage or driveway or a parking garage that has charging stations. But if you cannot do that, an EV owner is in the same mess as an ICE owner. It doesn’t matter if your tank is 1/4 full or your battery is ¼ charged.

        • Phil says:

          I’m replying in the context of barriers to entry with electric cars. I agree that hurricane evacuation is a red herring. But the larger infrastructure problem is serious, if you’re looking at it from the point of the millions of people who logistically can’t make an electric car work right now. I live in a house without a garage, and we park near the street, so would have to drop a line from the utility somehow to an outdoor charging station. But like millions of other homeowners, it’s a struggle just to keep the house painted and in good repair, let alone add serious features. And in many ways I still have it easier than the millions who rent in duplexes, park on streets, park in apartment building lots, etc etc etc. From my point of view, right now the future of driving looks like a cliff of haves and have nots, as car prices rocket to absurd levels and people with money envision a future of electric transport that doesn’t seem to fit with the reality of what’s happening on the street.

        • I don’t live in a hurricane prone area, but I was a Boy Scout. I never let my gas ⛽ tank get below half full. Just in case….

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Laurence Hunt,

          Then the effective range of your vehicle is only about 150 miles, no?? LOL

        • Wolfbay says:

          Leaving EVs aside , doesn’t the grid need a major upgrade? Cali and Texas are recent examples.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I’ll just repeat what I said further down:

          Electricity CONSUMPTION in the US peaked in 2006 and has been roughly stagnant ever since. There are lots of reasons for this, including more efficient lighting systems, appliances, and industrial equipment, better insulation of buildings, and offshoring of heavy industry.

          Who wants to operate in this kind of no-growth industry? EVs would be the best thing that can every happen to electric utilities because they might actually turn a stagnant industry into a growth industry that will attract new capital investments to benefit from that growth.


          In addition, most EVs get charged up in the middle of the night, when electricity is cheaper and when there is a HUGE amount of idle capacity that is very costly for utilities to maintain. EVs are the best thing that could ever have happened to utilities.

          This fear-mongering about the impact of EVs on grid is just silly BS.

        • freewary says:

          Wolf- if what you say is true, that there’s no risk to the grid, then why did California ask EV owners not to charge this week?

          OK I get it, ASSUMING responsible capital investments, long term it could all work out. But the fact is this happened this week.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          You’re abusing my site to spread lies you picked up from braindead headlines. CA utilities asked customers to reduce consumption between 4 pm and 9 pm and one day between 3 pm and 10 pm. It was the record hottest ever heat wave, 116 degrees in Sacramento (the capital), and actually it went reasonably well. You were ENCOURAGED to charge your EV in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT when there is HUGE IDLE CAPACITY even during the heatwave, which is what most people do anyway since electricity is cheaper — they plug it in at night to top off in the middle of the night as always DHU???

          The BS being posted here when “EV” is in the headline is embarrassing.

        • Lynn says:

          I think the biggest concern is the cost. The most frequent concern I hear from people who can not afford a new car (which is a huge portion of the population) is how will people be able to afford new batteries for a used EV.

          It’s also going to hurt people in extremely rural areas. I know this is going to sound unbelievable to some people, it’s an entirely different world, but where I live many many people only have a few solar panels and a 2000KW generator to power their entire homestead. They live hand to mouth. They also need 4WD to get home.

  4. Depth Charge says:

    “In terms of new vehicle sales, EVs are the one segment that is growing in leaps and bounds with huge percentage growth rates, even as sales of ICE vehicles have declined.”

    The government is pushing this way too hard and fast. I don’t mind a reasoned approach, but this is anything but. And giving all of these incentives and credits to these wealthy corps was just filthy.

    I happen to believe hybrids hold more promise long term. I still haven’t seen any heavy duty EV that can haul 35,000 lbs like the new diesel trucks. It seems they just want to get rid of that market segment or something, yet that’s what does the work.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Depth Charge,

      I hate the EV incentives. They’re stupid. Right now, there is so much demand for EVs that there are huge waiting lists, and prices are getting hiked because there is this demand that far exceeds production capacity. This is the worst possible time to throw incentives at this segment. EVs don’t need it. They’ll do just fine without it. I have railed against it before, but it doesn’t help. Those incentives will just fatten the profit margins of the automakers.

      If you want to encourage production in the US, slap on big tariffs on imports, that’ll do the job. Don’t subsidize production in the US and handing out cash or tax rebates.

      • Depth Charge says:

        It seems like we can always count on the government making the biggest mess possible. I forget where I saw it, but there was an article saying that a certain model EV automatically raised their price to capture the entire tax credit, so the buyer got nothing. Or maybe it was a dealer. I forget. But end result was the same.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Both GM and Ford recently announced price increases for their EV’s that covered the potential tax credit available for buyers under the new government program.

        • JeffD says:

          The current tool for decision making in government is to lay out all possible decisions on 3×5 cards on a table, and after careful conseration, pick the worst.

        • Einhal says:

          The only way these incentives will ever work is if the government fixes costs at the prices that existed prior to the incentive. That’s true whether it’s EV credits, lower interest rates for housing, student loans for college, and so forth.

          In other words, “To make homes more affordable, we’re going to set interest rates at 3%. But sellers, you can’t charge more to capture the extra payment. You have to sell your house at the prices that existed when rates were 5%.”

          Obviously, this would make a huge mess. But at least then it’d be honest.

      • unamused says:

        “I hate the EV incentives. They’re stupid.”

        They’re not actually necessary except for political posturing and overfeeding of corporations, but be that as it may. Technical battery improvements have advanced about as far as the inherent redox limitations allow, which aren’t at all sufficient, but fortunately other technologies aren’t subject to these limitations and can be expected to make EVs obsolete in short order.

        Sacramento hit 116 °F on Tuesday, but there still seem to be no serious discussions of putting an air-conditioned dome over it. Until that happens I recommend thinking cool thoughts.

      • Prairie Rider says:

        Construction crews are hard at work building a new, and large, soybean crush plant in Casselton, North Dakota. It will turn soybean oil into biodiesel as a big part of it’s operations when up and running.

        The recently passed “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” includes an extension of the $1 a gallon biodiesel tax credit from 2022 to 2024.

        The Act also has a small token of $100 million dollars for gas stations. If you own a gas station, and want to add or expand your retail bio-fuels options, to sell what comes out of the crush plant to your customers, Uncle Sam will split the cost of investment that you spend 50% –50%.

        • MiTurn says:

          So will the tractors used to grow the soybeans,
          and the trucks used to haul it to the crushing plant, use biodiesel? Doesn’t that counter the ‘law of conservation of energy’?

          Regular diesel will make up the difference. Or, of course, electric-powered tractors and trucks. Someday.

      • RickV says:

        Recently, I looked at new 2022 Prius Primes in the LA area. Primes have a 25 mile battery and are plug-in hybrids. All have a standard $5,000 added to the selling price. I think the current tax credit is $4,500 so the dealers have taken the entire tax credit and then some. I asked one dealer if I would get a $5,000 bonus on my hybrid trade in. He said something about the increase is already in the value of the car. I’ll wait a couple year or two and see what happens.

        • Einhal says:

          The only reason I’m skeptical that this increase was due to the tax credit is that the new rules don’t take effect until 1/1/2023.

        • NBay says:

          I like that ‘Prime idea”. 95% of many people’s driving could be done and never ANY fossil fuel bought.
          Also nobody has mentioned Re-gen braking. There is a lot of room for improvement if the money goes into it.
          Like a super capacitor that could take the FULL load of a panic stop, and then slowly bleed it into battery at a rate batt could handle.
          Materials science is really getting good, along with regular ckt design for all components involved.
          And we need a newer and better grid anyway, like DC “superhighways”. China has several up to 2000 mi, I believe.

          COMPREHENSIVE GREEN NEW INDUSTRY ON A WAR FOOTING…..they said “Fuck the free market, we need this NOW” during WW2 and taxed like crazy. REAL play to WIN!

        • NBay says:

          And as far as your concerns go, Ricky, let me use a WW2 example.

          We want n Jeeps made for n price to x specs and if you can’t give a damned good reason why that is nothing short of totally impossible, or have a better design, then we will get someone who CAN.

          FN ambitious managers are a dime a dozen.

      • QQQBall says:

        @ Wolf Richter

        Since when is taxing imports not a defacto subsidy for domestic production?

        Along the lines of credit. My neighbor is getting solar and had his roof replaced by the solar company. Apparently he can apply for the 33% credit (per neighbor) on the TOTAL cost. So now Cali taxpayers are subsidizing over-priced roofs too.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Tariffs RAISE TAXES from the gross profits of the importers and the foreign exporters; while subsidies COST TAXPAYERS to fatten profit margins of corporate America. That is a HUGE difference.

    • SWE Josh says:

      I don’t like the EV incentives either but I don’t ever hear people complaining about the incentives and pollution generated by the oil industry let alone the US army that spends half of it’s time getting involved in places it has no business just to ensure the steady flow of oil. If you want to go down this road let’s compare apples to apples.

      • Smith says:

        The biggest cost of the US military around the globe is ensuring free trade. The biggest beneficiary is China.

    • Mitry says:

      I agree hybrids make sense for pickup trucks like the F450/Ram3500 downward. There’s a company that puts the batteries in a bed toolbox and the electric motor is spliced into the driveshaft, so no added work for the transmission. It costs about $9k, so not much cheaper than a diesel.

  5. JeffD says:

    The huge jump in miles driven starting in 2014 is puzzling. Any insights?

    • Bobber says:

      The economy was coming out of the Great Recession, so more jobs and economic activity.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Part of it was the recovery from the drop during the Great Recession, back to trend.

      • Depth Charge says:

        Yeah. If you draw an imaginary line across that dip, it would seem to support that.

    • John Griffith says:

      I think the better question is why the fall off in miles driven between 2007 and 2017?

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        JG-airline passenger miles correlation, mebbe…, ‘home entertainment’ sophistication coupled with GFC financial effects, mebbe…

        may we all find a better day.

    • sailorgirl says:

      Gas prices went from an average of $3.85 in March of 2012 to $1.79 in February of 2014. Lot’s of those big SUV’s are still on the road as well as my Ford Hybrid. Lifetime average MPG of 42.2.

      Lot’s of EV ‘s in my community. Tesla’s are a dime a dozen. Electricity is pretty cheap here in South Florida compared to CA. New models by other manufactures will dent Tesla’s sales. Everyone likes new, improved and expensive.

  6. Yves Rubin says:

    I suppose that the 300,000+ miles on my 1994 Camry are significantly contributing to your Average Age of Car chart…

    • Ted T. says:

      1stCav, Yves;
      My litmus test is this. Has the vehicle had its valve cover (or cam cover) removed on its journey to high mileage? You can keep anything running if you want to.

      • Yves Rubin says:

        Ha! Engine was changed twice (with 60-70k Japanese engines), the second time purely of my own fault…

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        Ted-an LE still on the original 4cyl/at, and about time to check valve clearances again. Starting to use a little oil, but, as compression’s still acceptable, reckon the valve seals are going so decision time on top-end refresh soon depending on the valves (have to replace with new cam followers to adjust clearances, so cams out, etc., etc. attendant items after that…).

        may we all find a better day.

    • Pat says:

      My father just turned 300k yesterday on his 1997 Camry – original everything it’s a V6 and he barely does maintenance . They don’t make them like they used to

    • Nunya says:

      The Camry, the most stolen car for a while in America. Like many other Toyotas, almost bulletproof. My first car was a hand-me down 1987 Toyota Camry. Besides the standard maintenence, only the starter needed to be replaced. It ended up getting passed down from kid to kid starting in 2000 all the way to 2008 when it finally was involved in an accident. Even with the accident, it still ran like a champ and sold for $1,200!!!!

  7. 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

    Yves-dammit, just when i thought my ’02 Camry @257K made me one of the ‘in crowd’…

    may we all find a better day.

    • Anthony A. says:

      We had a 1999 4 cylinder, auto transmission Camry that our two daughters shared (and beat on it) during college years. I did two timing belt jobs on it and a ton of oil changes over the years. Some other maintenance like an alternator replacement, tires, brakes, ball joints and tie rod ends kept it alive.

      Great car and we sold it for $2 K with 300,000+ on it, faded brown paint and still functioning A/C. I still have a few new oil filters in the garage that were for it.

      • DTOM says:

        Our kid car, which I’m now using as my daily beater, was a 2004 Toyota Matrix, which was a Toyota Corolla-based design shared by the Pontiac Vibe. Bought it ten years ago with 207,000 miles for $3,300 and it now has 302,000 miles. Uber reliable, low tech, easy and cheap to keep running myself. Unfortunately it will be the Midwest rust that does it in. Damn near perfect daily drivers, so much so that one daughter bought an ’05 Matrix and another an ’03 Vibe, and my brother bought an ’05 Vibe for his kids. I’m on the lookout for another first generation Matrix/Vibe to replace the ’03 and plan on keeping it another decade or so.

      • QQQBall says:

        I got 356,000 miles on a Toyota Cressida and it ran like a champ. Really comfortable cabin, plenty of power and nice solid car. I got 333,000 on a 1993 Honda Accord. Car was so trouble free and comfortable to drive – amazing! I’d take it to mechanic for a tune-up and he would say “Doesn’t need plugs.” Gotta change the timing belts every 100k on those types of cars and they run forever.

  8. ThePetabyte says:

    I’m personally in the market for something in the 30-40k range and there’s just absolutely nothing in terms of inventory. Anything higher is just out of budget and every model I look for is trending in that price direction. I’m not in a rush to buy but I do worry that I’ll be priced out if I don’t act.

    My biggest worry is that the abysmal new car inventories will start to affect the used car market, since you can’t have a used car without it have been being new at some point.

    • andy says:

      This should be your biggest worry.
      Of course you’ll be priced out. Forever. Better hurrry and buy this weekend.

    • BobC says:

      the used car market seems to be softening. If you can wait another 6 weeks or so, you should have some more choices. Good luck!

      • Depth Charge says:

        Until new car manufacturing picks up, I don’t see any “deals” happening in the used car market. That could be years. Used cars are still grotesquely overpriced, and 6 weeks won’t do a thing.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Very true in general in tpa bay area also DC.
          Been thinking of trading one of my 20 YO vehicles for a 10 year old, at the newest, after being totally disgusted by the apparently now mandatory ”tech” on the new ones.
          If this be madness, as IMHO it really is,,, please ”Oh Lord won’t you bring me a basic car,,, my friends all have guzzlers and leave me with scars”…etc.

        • Iona says:

          I’m seeing prices come down pretty good OCONUS on used vehicles. I think they’re have been a lot of repos based on what lucky Lopez on YouTube and others have noted and that inventory is coming onto the market. I would say there aren’t any screaming deals yet, but the outrageous prices of the past couple years are gone. Compared with RE, where there are still crazy asking prices in my area here and there.

    • Who ahead says:

      Mazda 2. It is the overlooked predecessor to the Yaris.
      I saw one with 11k miles for 14000.

      Pretty common.

  9. Eastwind says:

    I live in Mexico, and I’m actually surprised that Mexico is in the top 10 export destinations. NAFTA made it very difficult to export a used US vehicle to Mexico. Very few vehicles qualify. The vehicle must have a NAFTA VIN (eliminates Japanese/Germana models made overseas vs the US), must be a specific number of years old (I think it’s either 8 or 9 years old, only), and it costs a couple thousand bucks for taxes and paperwork. For people retiring to Mexico it’s quite often cheaper and easier just to sell their US model in the US and buy a Mexican model in Mexico. It seems quite clear that in general Mexico does not want to be the dumping ground for used US cars.

    I had hoped that the NAFTA replacement would have changed some of this, but I haven’t heard of any changes. I could be out of date.

    I drive a chevy express van model that I believe was made in the US specifically for the Mexican market. It was used as a taxi for 6 years, and then sold on the used market, where I bought it. It’s a pretty basic model, manual windows for example (with the typically busted driver’s side knob).

    There are plants in Mexico making models for both US and Mexico, and plants in the US making models for both countries. I don’t know if those are contributing to your ‘used’ numbers. But as you say in the article, when a plant makes models for specific markets, the models are customized for that market with different options.

    For higher-end drivers, like SUVs, there are fewer Mexican models than are available in the US. You can still get all the bells and whistles, but you have less flexibility on option combinations and perhaps fewer colors to choose from. Often its white, silver, black or red only.

    • Seen it all before, Bob says:

      I’m in Colorado along I25.

      There is a constant stream of 2 used cars (one being towed) heading south to Mexico.

      There must be a market there.

      I am just annoyed that they are ALL driving under 50 with their flashers on.

      • Harvey Mushman says:

        In California the speed limit when towing is 55mph. But yeah, sucks to get stuck behind someone driving that slow.

  10. Eastwind says:

    Sorry, I was using the word “model” in my post and what I really should have been using was the term “trim level”. Pretty much all the same models are available, but in fewer trim levels.

  11. Wisdom Seeker says:

    Proofreading comment: there’s an extra “vehicles” in operation in the first sentence:

    “The number of vehicles of highway-legal light-duty vehicles in operation (VIO)”

  12. Greatvampire says:

    Tesla benefited from Elon Musk’s insanely long hours he was putting in at work. Long-term, there’s no way any one man can maintain that kind of work ethic. It’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger going to the gym: he used to do hours and hours per day with the weights, and now after a lifetime of repetition and tiring effort he’s down to the minimum necessary to maintain a semi-strong build.

    Elon Musk will find new interests and Tesla will sail on without its illustrious founder.

    • andy says:

      Musk did not found Tesla.

    • unamused says:

      Musk mythology. How sycophantic can you get?

      How many times has he been successfully sued for fraud, including out of court settlements? SEC violations? Illegal labor practices? Selling lemons? Reckless endangerment? Unprovable and disproved claims? Crap software? Product recalls? Child labor? Intellectual property infringement? Harassment and intimidation? Breach of fiduciary duty? Environmental violations? Property destruction? Racial discrimination? The list goes on for pages, single-spaced, and that’s just the categories.

      The man is a menace by any standard and a farting unicorn by some, but at least he’s rumored to actually pay his attorneys.

      Con artists, crooks, and people who have hallucinations are not ‘visionaries’.

      The guy will never get to Mars, but it would be nice if he would try.

      • Seen it all before, Bob says:

        So far, he has beat all of the worldwide automakers with EV design and production. Also, he has beat the US government with space launch capability.

        As an engineer, I am in shock and awe.

        I still think he is an A**hole. But I’m a nice guy and I don’t work for him. I don’t intend to work for him or have him owe me any money.

        • unamused says:

          “So far, he has beat all of the worldwide automakers with EV design and production.”

          No, his employees did, but it’s a very low bar. His job is to maximize share prices, wow his fanboys, and stay out of prison.

          “Also, he has beat the US government with space launch capability.”

          SpaceX is fifty years behind NASA putting people on the Moon and can never actually manage it, but it’s only a vanity project surviving on taxpayer handouts whose only real purpose is to glorify its largest shareholder.

          “As an engineer, I am in shock and awe.”

          Sounds like a medical condition requiring ER services. On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog, but at least you didn’t claim to be an ‘expert’ on anything.

          Musk is deeply concerned about the world’s ‘underpopulation crisis’ because humans are joyful, so maximizing joy means increasing population as much as possible – blitheringly unaware that most people in the world live in abject inescapable poverty under repressive authoritarian regimes which somehow strangely translates to ‘joy’.

      • james wordsworth says:

        I see you remain uninformed. I will stay unamused with your comments.

        Of course Musk does not do it all himself, but he hires some of the best and he pushes them hard. All the top young engineers want to work there because he is pushing technical limits. Musk asks his people for the moon I(according to folks I know who have worked for him) and even if they don’t make it, as long as they are trying beyond their best, he is fine with falling short – but in the process new limits will have been broken and new heights achieved.

        Watch the Munro Live video with Sandy Munro talking about how much he was impressed with what Musk knows about manufacturing materials and design. Munro has seen a lot of car co CEO’s so he should know – plus he has taken apart tons of cars.

        EVs are not perfect but they will prevail eventually – and more quickly than many think. Musk helped fuel the market and now he can get almost anything he wants for one of his cars.

        If we want to talk about subsidies – check out how much of the midwest gets paid to grow corn to turn into ethanol.

        • unamused says:

          You avoided my questions, which in itself is telling, and I’m even less impressed with the phony idolatries of Musk’s fanboys than I am with Musk, who has proven with some remarkable failures that he doesn’t understand manufacturing processes but is known to spend rather a lot on personal promotion.

      • Depth Charge says:

        Musk is a megalomaniac like most billionaires.

        • Remy says:

          Indeed Musk has an oversized ego. He also has oversized ambitions. A much needed wake up call to an automotive industry that was not innovating. And also the only way the US has to get to the ISS now. He was also willing to loose it all multiple times to get the companies he runs where he would like them to go. We could use a few more of him.

  13. Anon says:

    My arithmetic must be faulty.

    270 Billion miles divided by 274.4 Million VIO seems to work out to, on average, lessthan 1000 miles per year.

    Is that really correct?

  14. Frank says:

    I was surprised the average vehicle age is 12.2 years.
    I bought a Toyota Sequoia new in 2003 for $46,000. I took good care of it and it gave me over 308,000 miles for 17 years. That’s about .15 cents per mile not counting fuel and the normal maintenance fees. The engine was in great shape as well as the body. But the interior was showing its age.
    I don’t see the EVs lasting that many years or at least I don’t see their batteries lasting that long. When I read stories of people junking their EVs after 10 years due to the cost of replacement batteries, I wonder how economical these vehicles really are.

    Does the savings in fuel justify the cost of a new battery?
    Is the value of the car worth replacing the battery?

    Hybrids make sense to me. All electric, I am not so sure.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      As a now ”fully retired” cost analyst with over 50 years on the job, I agree with you FOR NOW Frank.
      Might not take much to tip the scales to full BE, but, not yet for this old boy…
      Hybrids getting 44-55 MPG ”around town” are mighty mighty attractive, and WE, in this case the family WE, will very likely go ahead with one of the offerings next year or by 2025 at the latest according to what I am reading in the ”MOTORHEAD” news sites these days…
      Actually looking forward to being able to drive ALL my local weekly strictly on the EL, while having the ICE to back up on the road trips I have loved for many decades, and seriously HOPE to go again when the various and sundry hysterics decrease.

  15. Bam_Man says:

    I am way “worse than average” when it comes to vehicle age.
    My two vehicles are a 1995 BMW M3 and and a 2007 Lexus ES 350 – both bought new for cash. Both are still in very nice shape and have zero plans to replace either anytime soon.

    My wife drives the “new” vehicle – a 2017 Lexus RX350 SUV.

    The automakers are probably not thrilled.

  16. DR DOOM says:

    EV or ICE there will be no bargains. The Empire and its Oligarch’s are firmly in control. Fill your Heck Mug to the brim (I have an extra one that even the Head Honcho at Wolf Street could not give away) sit back and enjoy. Jerry Garcia strange may be heading our way.

  17. DR DOOM says:

    SQQQ. Retail gonna get harvested next week. Full disclosure, this is a 10yr Speyburn fueled SQQQ alert.

    • bulfinch says:

      It’s been a long & curiously thin patch for the visionaries and saviors department these past few generations. I blame the parents & whatever’s in the water these days.

      The raw appeal of self-driving EVs remains in league with the quartz LCD wrist watch or the autotune’d pop hit for me. The latest take, maybe; but not the best one on record.

    • Eugene says:

      Markets bottomed on wednesday,54 days daily cycle.Markets will be green the next 2-3weeks at least.BTC,ETH bottomed on thursdsy also .Bear market in crypto is over, more likely.

  18. SpencerG says:

    2001 Chevy Tahoe. 484,000 miles. Burns oil.

    Thus far I have had a hard time justifying replacing a paid off SUV worth $4K to $5K for a replacement that costs ten to twelve times that much… just cheaper to add a quart of oil every two weeks.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      Wow! 484,000 miles. My old boss had a Tahoe or a Yukon, I can’t remember now. He had something like 300,000+ miles on it. I never realized that an American vehicle could last so long.

      • Depth Charge says:

        Fuel injection changed the game. The old carburetors washed down cylinder walls with fuel, causing scoring, and diluted the oil in the crankcase which wreaked havoc on bearings. Add in the much improved motor oils and engines can last 4x-5x the old ones.

        Some diesel engines in light duty trucks from the 90s to the mid 2000s (5.9 Cummins, 7.3 Powerstroke) can go over a million miles if taken care of.

      • Evelyn Wood Head says:

        I met a man named Irv that had a Volvo P1800 and at the time it had 3 million miles on it and it was in absolutely beautiful shape. He lived in Boston and stopped in Highland Indiana to wash it on his way to lunch and I was lucky enough to be at the wash so he could show me around it. He said he had the short block replaced at around 500K but the engine in it had 2.5 million miles on it. It was his life’s goal to put as many mile on the car as possible and he would spend a day driving across country just to go to lunch….

    • Wolfbay says:

      Our 2002 Tahoe z71 has 300000 and not burning oil yet. With our GM card and rebates we paid 29000$ for it new. If we have to I suppose we can afford a new one but at 80000$ or whatever they cost now we’ll put it off as long as possible.

  19. MF says:

    That average age chart has plenty of upside.

    Today’s cars can be made to last a lot longer than the ones just 20 years ago thanks to electronic interventions that prevent overheating, over revving, etc.

    The Achilles heel is the chips. I can see them being hard to source once a car gets more than 20 years old. And you need lots of 20+ vehicles to keep the average age crawling north of 12.

  20. nightdipper says:

    I will buy an EV or non-ice once the tech matures. Being an early adopter of new tech is very expensive and the initial tech gets out dated very quickly. Take the cost and functionality of Cell phones when they first came to market compared to ten years later. After the tech matured the device was not as quickly outdated.
    I recently bought my last ICE vehicle a GX460 with a NA V-8 made in Japan. Cost of gas is insignificant to me and I am proud of my carbon footprint.

    • Halibut says:

      I have the same vehicle. That engine is smooth as butter and probably the most reliable V8 on earth.

  21. 223Shaun says:

    What reason is there to buy stocks? You know reported earnings are a lie based on fake numbers (EBITDA, Mark to Maturity valuations) and fraudulent schemes (stock prices artificially boosted by stock buybacks) resulting in unbelievably high real P/E ratios. Plus, commodity prices are artificially suppressed in the paper markets, further distorting valuations and preventing price discovery in all markets. Caveat emptor. To buy stocks here is to participate in the greatest fraud of history.

    • SpencerG says:

      The biggest problem (in my opinion) is that the LBO guys are hunting for companies that produce better returns. So once they privatize them the rest of us are left picking through a stock market selection of lesser companies.

  22. rick m says:

    Driving from Philadelphia to Austin May ’80, broken down cars every mile or three, interspersed with 8-track tapes blowing in the wind. It’s a nicer drive now. Much better roads. The vehicles are typically much more reliable.And should you have mechanical problems on the road today you can call someone or the car will. Much better than hitchhiking to get a wrecker in the rain.
    A thousand or so Deux Chevaux were optimistically imported into the US. All my freak friends drove them or R4’s in Munich, they all smelled like patchouli, hash, and Gauloises. Unsafe here, like the original Cinco Cento. Hard to believe Citroen also made the DS21. Zero family resemblance.
    Many countries have high import duties on new cars, and some have raised the import duties on used vehicles as more came in to evade the new car tax. Others are lowering to help their people get transportation and hurting investors in homegrown car brands. Turkey’s was so high once that it was cheaper to have a wrecked vehicle towed to the border and abandoned on the other side than import the wreck into the country assessed at new value in Turkey. Nigeria imports cars, trucks, and especially motorcycles from lots of countries, not just the US. Domestic production there can’t keep up.
    EVs are too third-railish(pun intended). Don’t know that anything that I think that I might know about them is anywhere near right anyway, it’s a bit new. Musk, like Zaphod Beeblebrox, is just this guy, y’know? he’ll stick it out too far and lose it, don’t they all? The quiet, stable wealthy find livable limits. The showboats don’t. The man and his products are two different things. He may have top people but CEOs get in the way sometimes, Thomas Edison got remoted by his own staff so they could make some money. Henry Ford should have been. Homer Capehart, Saul Marantz, plenty more that got in their own way and lost their companies. Tesla himself managed to ruin his own fortunes several times and those of devoted employees. And musk is no Tesla.
    My barber charged $8 cash in 1992. His granddaughter charges $12 cash now, but she’s a lot cuter.

    • unamused says:

      Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, and Hunter S. Thompson still have their admirers in the empire.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        una-never neglect HST’s timeless aphorism:

        “…when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro…”

        may we all find a better day.

  23. Island Teal says:

    Good article..thank you Wolf.
    The comments were most interesting. Especially those re Elon and Tesssssla 🤪🤡🤪🤡

  24. CreditGB says:

    I have a headache coming on.

    According to IEA, the Total Electric Energy Supply, per capita in the US, is dropping annually. Arguably, at least partially, due to and exacerbated by the decommissioning of coal, gas, and hydro generation.

    1990 320.2902 GJ/capita
    1995 324.477 GJ/capita
    2000 337.0374 GJ/capita
    2005 327.8264 GJ/capita
    2010 299.3562 GJ/capita
    2015 285.1211 GJ/capita
    2020 257.9069 GJ/capita

    Meantime, sales of EVs has almost doubled according to recent reports. Each has to be recharged or “topped off” on a regular basis.

    Weekly and daily, we see stories of energy shortages, threatened rolling black outs, CA restrictions on EV charging etc.

    I see the energy demand line rising dramatically but the energy production line dropping just as dramatically.

    I have a very uneasy feeling that our “transportation bus” is hurtling down a one way street at increasingly high speeds. Our driver, drunk on Green juice, is ignoring the “Dead End” warning signs we keep passing almost daily now.

    Hope I’m wrong.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Electricity CONSUMPTION in the US peaked in 2006 and has been roughly stagnant ever since. There are lots of reasons for this, including more efficient lighting systems, appliances, and industrial equipment, better insulation of buildings, and offshoring of heavy industry.

      Who wants to operate in this kind of no-growth industry? EVs would be the best thing that can every happen to electric utilities because they might actually turn a stagnant industry into a growth industry that will attract new capital investments to benefit from that growth.


      In addition, most EVs get charged up in the middle of the night, when electricity is cheaper and when there is a HUGE amount of idle capacity that is very costly for utilities to maintain. EVs are the best thing that could ever have happened to utilities.

      This fear-mongering about the impact of EVs on grid is just silly BS.

      • Tobias says:

        Why is growth the capitalist religion? It’s destroying the planet and our society. Greed and consumption are cancer.

        • Evelyn Wood Head says:

          I personally think about this question a lot and simply and repeatedly come back to the same answer which is “That is what I want my personal capital to do” “GROW!” Several instances are: I put my personal income into the bank for consideration from the bank that they will pay interest on it so my money (capital) will become more money then when I originally put it in the bank and I can have a better life for myself. Another example is that if I buy a car (The car in this case is part of my personal capital) for ex amount of dollars I personally expect to have a long run outcome that I get more income from owning this car then the the cost and the operational costs of the car. The way I get income from the car is by driving it to work and hopefully my pay for working is more then the I paid for the car. If everything works out OK with the investment in the car (my capital)I should get a return of 20 to 40 times the amount that I put into the car (I buy cheap used cars [“My name is blurry face and I care what people think”]). If I didn’t get any return (growth) on the car investment I would just basically be working for the car and that would really not be good because I would not have any additional money (growth) to go out and enjoy life and do things such as pick up babes or find a date if you prefer old fashion terms.
          And this brings me to discussion of the real problem of capitalism which is an undeniable truth, we the people like to fornicate; we like to do it as much and often as possible. This fornication makes the population grow and sometimes, like at the end of a war, greater amounts of fornication occur causing greater population growth 9 months on and this population growth does have one fantastic good twist but also has a problem. The fantastic twist is it makes the United States of America a more powerful country and stronger to defend itself and more able to provide for itself and build better and more attractive structures (Growth) which attracts money from other countries which builds up an ever larger and larger tax base allowing the USA to be able to ever increasingly to defend itself and each individual from a foreign invader; for example : look how simply we worked through CoVid. If there was no growth not enough tax money would have been available to pay the smart people to figure out how to work through the problem. Having the tax revenues to pay these smart people to save our lives is the fantastic part of capitalism growth.
          But the rub in the growth of capital from the fornication, especially during excess amounts of it ( For you math type, a large integrated area under a curve) through out the population, ie when a war has ended, is not the moment 9 months after the fornication but more like 28 to 34 years later (lets call it 30 years) after that wonderful few seconds. At this 30 year later juncture and yet more fornication new families are born and of course these new families don’t want to live in the streets so they demand housing and demand all the under pinnings that accompany new families.
          Now this demand for this many new families needs can sometimes get a little excessive and even egregious on our countries resources; yes it could really make capital grow but lets face it, there is only so much material resources to go around, especially if we all want capitalism to survive for a very long amount of time, so for a short period the corporations and companies will be allowed growth on there capital allowing them rewards for the risks that they have taken but for only for awhile because as indicated just a moment ago, we all want capitalism and the USA to last as long as possible, so the resources have to be judiciously released in a controlled manner.
          To control this problem of egregiousness, the USA must once again dip into their tax base and, once again, hire (appoint) smart people, which in this case is the US Federal Reserve which will ultimately control the amount of money in circulation and control the growth in the moment of excessive demand limiting the use of our finite resources. Yes, as in any “ism” there are risks such as greed and cancer but in capitalism all get to partake in the rewards if they chose to do so. In the other isms this is not the case. I hope this answers your question of “Why is growth the capitalist religion?”

    • rick m says:

      IEA is not just tracking all the joules per smiling american face. They are also interested in gender gaps in the energy sector, “sustainability” of energy, and EV development, according to the website. Individually laudable efforts no doubt. Collectively I smell a big fat green rat. So many highly respected institutions of unquestioned and heretofore pristine reputation have been repudiated and exposed lately that simply to trust in anything connected to government(s) without checking seems perilous. I’d like to know a lot more about their tabulating and sampling procedure, honest misinterpretations are common enough even if they’re not crooked. And who’s working there and where else do they work. Globalists are avid multitaskers.
      Probably doesn’t matter. The prudent bet is on technology solving present problems of infrastructure, raw material sourcing and battery design with unanticipated speed, and innovation is perpetually profitable. All these problems will get fixed, and be forgotten, to be replaced with even more dire “existential” problems. Through which we will happily muddle somehow. We’ve got the joules, it’s just directing traffic now. Somebody always invents a stoplight.

  25. Digger Dave says:

    Not just hybrids, but plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which are a huge missed opportunity, especially for pick up trucks, which the majority of are used for personal purposes. The amount of raw materials that go into one EV pickup battery could have been spread out to many PHEV batteries, kept vehicles more affordable and saved a ton of ICE miles. I live in rural place where it gets friggin cold in the winter where it’s a one hour drive from the nearest big box store no matter which direction you go in. 200 mile range EVs in temperatures below 0F lose a lot of range and not practical here. The wife’s PHEV gets phenomenal gas mileage and barely moves the needle on the electric bill. She has not put any gas in the tank for the last 7 months. This vehicle is essentially an EV 90% of the time, but with no range issues.

    I’d love a PHEV pick-up to replace my 3/4 ton. Something that can plow snow and haul a trailer more than 100 miles without needing a recharge, but would get great economy in my many 20 mile days around town.

  26. freewary says:

    I figured out why the cars in operation are going to keep climbing up and up.

    Go to the billions of people who are stuck in poor countries and poll them “Would you like to move to America and live in your own 13 year old used car?”

    I bet a billion+ say yes.

    Net positive immigration, rent and home prices going up, NIMBY zoning- more and more people will be living in cars.

  27. Yort says:

    EVs are the future, I agree…yet some unintended consequences such as increased micro plastic pollution (heavier EVs wears tires quicker) and the difficult task of recycling billions of EV battery cells a year “Energy and Environmentally Efficiently”…

    Each new technology has the possibility to introducing a new unintended consequence. Safest idea, on multiple levels, is to simply drive less if possible…

    Per Bloomberg Sept 2, 2022:

    When Driving, Tires Emit Pollution. And EVs Make the Problem Worse

    A London startup’s device aims to capture tire emissions from cars, trucks, delivery vans and buses.

    Switching to electric cars helps to lower carbon emissions — even after accounting for manufacturing and charging batteries — but it actually exacerbates the problem of tire emissions. EVs typically weigh more and accelerate faster than their gas-burning counterparts, which adds to tire wear. The EV transition will also keep the world’s fleet of cars growing until nearly 2040, well after the peak for gas-burning cars that’s expected in the next two years, according to BloombergNEF, a clean energy research group.

    “Most of these EVs are big monstrous things, so it’s perfectly intuitive that they will be chewing up tires faster,” says Nick Molden, founder and CEO of the UK-based research shop Emissions Analytics. Results from the company’s latest road tests, published in May, show that under normal driving conditions a gas car sheds about 73 milligrams per kilometer from four new tires. A comparable EV, the company estimates, sheds an additional 15 milligrams per kilometer, or about 20% more.

    For decades, tailpipe emissions — both the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and the particulates that cause air pollution — have overshadowed the tire problem. That means researchers are only beginning to catalog what’s even in tire emissions. Across the different tires it studied, Emissions Analytics found an average of more than 400 organic compounds. “Part of the work we’re doing is to try to resolve what on earth these compounds are,” Molden says. “If we can’t identify them, then we can’t even fathom what the toxicity may or may not be.”

    One landmark study makes the potential stakes clear. In 2020, researchers in Washington state solved a decades-old mystery of why storm runoff was causing mass deaths of coho salmon: 6PPD, a preservative commonly used in car tires. When exposed to sun and air, 6PPD transforms into a chemical called 6PPD-quinone, which turns out to be highly toxic to coho salmon — causing them to circle, gasp at the surface and then die within hours.

    • Evelyn Wood Head says:

      At least with 6PPD they get a few extra hours. When I catch a COHO on a hook it gets slaughtered right there on the shoreline, cooked and eaten.

    • Valerie from Australia says:

      This was really interesting! Thank you for sharing this information!

  28. just-a-boy says:

    YEA! 3 Cheers to everyone with at least 1 car over 15 years old, Still running & To Those who turn their own wrenches to keep ’em going!

  29. just-a-boy says:

    And an Extra Cheer to you if you have a car made before 1974! As Jerry Reed once said in one of his fine movies ” Nothing can Outrun An American car made before the Catalytic Converter!”

    Would have done this in one post if there was an edit button……
    just sayin’……

  30. dang says:

    I would like to suggest an alternative to the present thoughts about used car prices, which prices, Wolf has precisely documented.

    Before I read the GDA I was thinking that Wolf’s dedication to the facts may be conservative in assessing the growth of EV’s and hybrids. quoting Wolf:

    “In terms of new vehicle sales, EVs are the one segment that is growing in leaps and bounds with huge percentage growth rates, even as sales of ICE vehicles have declined.

    In California, where Teslas are made, EV sales made up 15% of total new-vehicle sales in the first half of 2022, up from a 9.5% share in 2021 and a 6.2% share in 2020. “

    • dang says:

      Which immediately brought me back to the book review interview with Dr. Steven ?*****, who recently released a book (can’t remember the exact title) The decline of the neo-liberal order etc.

      His hypothesis was that economic philosophy is only actualized when a majority of administrators believe in it.

      He claims the Clinton’s actualization of Reaganism was only possible because the majority of FDR “new dealism” administrators had relinquished their power to someone younger.

      • dang says:

        Which brings me to suggest an alternative explanation;

        that people are holding onto their clean used internal combustion engine driven cars in anticipation of the EV revolution tsunami that is likely to come, I suggest.

        Of course, my predictions have been precisely wrong and can be measured, like a shot put throw, outside the 1.96 standard deviation circle, as imbecilic, how could I ever predicted SPY at 3200 while the bull snorts at 4000 ? among other wrongness I have committed.

        I do have a plausible excuse, even though I have no excuse other than recognizing the folly of my own hubris.

  31. Harry Houndstooth says:

    You can waste your time elsewhere, or you can tune into the best source of wisdom anywhere. It just keeps getting better and better. Who knew Wolf Richter had extensive experience with hydrogen? Not me.

    Pure wisdom dispensed daily.

  32. RickV says:

    As a California 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range owner, with solar panels, I’m posting FYI. Based on my review of Tesla blog websites and the owner manual, the Tesla engineers recommend routinely charging between 20-30% to 70-80% to preserve battery life (this can change as battery technology changes). I have a 240V 30A charger installed in my garage, so generally I only charge when the battery is down to 20-30% and only up to 70-80%. Occasionally, I charge to 90% before a trip, and sometimes I use the 100% trip charge option with leaving at a specified time, which can be done using the car’s software and my plug-in circuit with a Tesla adapter. Also, since I’m retired and not working during the day, the best time for the grid and me to charge is from 8am to 3pm, low peak usage, but at the same time mostly powered by solar power. Even during the recent heat crisis, PG&E recommended cooling homes to 70 degrees from 8am to 3pm before lifting temps to 78. Thanks for all you do.

  33. Itsbrokeagain says:

    I never intend on selling the cars I buy. Most of them end up getting hit or totaled by another driver, and being on Long Island or Queens it’s just a game of odds until your number comes up. Most people lease so if it gets hit, what do they care? It’s not theirs anyway.

    As a petrolhead, I do my research and buy cars I like with the intention of fixing them myself and keeping them forever. Had a 99 BMW wagon with 240k miles on it, was hit by a FedEx driver in a rush in the Bronx. Took me 7 months of searching in 2016 for this particular car.

    Bought my wife a 2003 3-series to get her out of her lease on her new Subaru in late 2016. Had 107k miles on it, one owned garage kept. Overhauled the entire thing, did a bunch of retrofits to bring it up to the modern tech. New motor (bigger too out of a 330i) rebuilt from the ground up by yours truly and a good friend at 152k (was drinking oil like crazy).

    At 172k a youth in a rush to a basketball game pulled a left in front of me, deciding not to wait for the guy in front of him to go first. Had no chance to even hit the brakes. Totaled.

    I was pissed, mostly because it was ruined and this was January 2022. The absolute worst time to buy a used car. Insurance gave me 30 days in a rental to find a replacement car. Ended up with an overpriced Jetta TDI that I still had to fix because there was literally nothing local that wasn’t overpriced garbage. The Jetta has 265k on it and I intend on running it into the ground.

    All in all I had about 12-13k including purchase price sunk into that 3-series. Had more creature comforts than some newer makes/models, and best of all, no car payment. It would have easily gone to 250k miles, might have needed a replacement transmission thrown in at some point, but it would’ve kept going forever. And it got ~30 or so MPGs on the highway.

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