You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Average age of the vehicle fleet

Average age of the vehicle fleet

Indicator Specification Created 04 Jul 2008 Published 21 Apr 2009 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
Topics: ,
Indicator codes: TERM 033


Justification for indicator selection

Increasingly tight regulations have resulted in the gradual introduction of more fuel-efficient, less polluting, less noisy and generally safer road vehicles. The average age of the vehicle fleet is therefore an indirect indication of the environmental performance of road transport. For the specific indicator, the overall objective is to record the improvement of the fleet composition whereby older, more polluting vehicles are replaced with newer, cleaner ones. The adoption of car scrappage schemes, import bans on certain vehicles or financial incentives and the mandatory periodical inspection and maintenance schemes could decrease the average age of vehicles.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator is defined as the mean age of vehicles specified by vehicle category (passenger cars, light duty vehicles, heavy duty vehicles, buses, coaches, mopeds and motorcycles).


Average age is expressed in years.

Policy context and targets

Context description

Car scrappage schemes have not yet been introduced at EU level. The European Parliament and Council has issued the Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles (ELV Directive), which states the need for harmonising the various measures adopted at country level on the treatment of end-of-life vehicles. In addition, the ELV Directive stresses the need for adopting a Community-wide framework for this purpose, but does not include any specific car scrappage schemes. ELV Directive as amended by 2002/525/EC, 2005/438/EC, 2005/673/EC requires that Member States set up systems to ensue ELVs are treated within authorized treatment facilities, sets progressively higher reuse, recycling and recovery targets and an ultimate recovery target of 95% by weight by 2015, encourage manufactures to design their vehicles with recyclability in mind, and restrict the use of heavy metals in the manufacture of new vehicles. The Directive stipulates a maximum concentration value up to 0.1% by weight and per homogeneous material, for lead, hexavalent chromium and mercury and up to 0.01% by weight per homogeneous material for cadmium shall be tolerated. Directive 2005/64/EC lays down minimum thresholds for the re-use, recycling and recovery of the component parts and materials of new vehicles with the aim of facilitating the re-use, recycling and recovery of parts with a view to fulfilling the planned 2015 objectives for recycling and recovering end-of-life vehicles. It provides for a preliminary assessment of manufacturers before Member States grant EC type-approval or national type-approval. The provisions of this Directive apply from 15 December 2008 to new types of vehicles put on the market, and from 15 July 2010 for models already in production. Inspection and maintenance programmes are of great importance to the environmental performance of the vehicle fleet. Properly maintained vehicles can be of higher age as long as their environmental performance does not differ too much from the newest technologies. Strict inspection of the environmental performance of the vehicle fleet can ensure that vehicles are replaced at the right time. The roadworthiness test directive 96/96/EC, as amended by the directives 1999/52/EC, 2000/30/EC and 2003/27/EC aims to provide these inspections. However, the currently regulated short test was found to identify only 15 % of high polluters among catalyst-equipped vehicles (European Commission, 2000). Since emission projections take into account the expected deterioration of the emission performance of individual vehicles over time, but not the risk of complete failure of the abatement technology, inspection and maintenance programmes play a crucial role in ensuring that projected emission reductions are realised. They should therefore be monitored.


There are no specific objectives or targets related to the average age of the vehicle fleet. Policy objectives are rather set with respect to the environmental performance of the fleet.

Related policy documents

Key policy question

Does the vehicle fleet replacement result in a reduction of the average age?


Methodology for indicator calculation

The population of each vehicle category is distributed in age classes, ranging from 1 to 43 years. The average age is calculated by multiplying the number of vehicles in each class by the mean age of the class (i.e. 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 years etc) and then dividing the sum of these products by the total number of vehicles in the respective vehicle category (passenger cars, light duty vehicles, heavy duty vehicles, buses, coaches, mopeds and motorcycles).

Methodology for gap filling

Since the average age is modelled, no gap-filling is necessary.

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

Since the data on the average age of road vehicles is modelled rather than measured, the data must be treated as estimates. It should be noted though, that a number of reliable national and international data sources on fleet characterisation (including i.a. Eurostat, ACEA, national experts, etc.) have been used as input to the model. The average age should ideally be 'weighted' to the usage of the vehicle - i.e. the average vehicle-kilometre age of a car.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Work description

Long term work: Information on other transport modes will be included as soon as this is available.

Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified


Not started


2011/12/31 18:00:00 GMT+1

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
TERM 033
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Transport Transport


Permalink to this version
Permalink to latest version

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year


DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Log in

Forgot your password?
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100