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

Average age of the vehicle fleet

Indicator Assessment Created 07 Aug 2009 Published 03 Sep 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
Note: new version is available!
Topics: ,
Indicator codes: TERM 033

Key messages

  • The average age of road vehicles has recorded small changes during the period from 1995 to 2008.
  • The average age of passenger cars, two-wheelers, buses and coaches slightly decreased, while the average age of light and heavy-duty vehicles increased.
  • The registration of new vehicles has increased over the same period, suggesting that the penetration rate of modern technologies is accelerating.

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

TERM33 Average age of road vehicles

Note: TREMOVE results refer to 30 EEA member countries (that is EU-27 plus Norway, Switzerland Turkey).

Data source:

Average age of road vehicles, 1995-2008 from TREMOVE v3.1

Downloads and more info
  • The average age of passenger cars decreased slightly from 8.8 years in 1995 to 8.1 years in 2008 while that of the two-wheelers decreased from 14.0 to 13.2 over the same period. The average age of light and heavy-duty vehicles has increased from 9.7 and 10.7 respectively to 11.4 and 11.5 over the same period.
  • The average age of passenger cars in the EEA varies widely between countries. The lowest average age for the year 2008 was observed in Luxembourg (3.8 years), highest in Greece and Cyprus (14.6 years). In general, diesel passenger cars have lower average age compared to petrol.

Indicator specification and metadata

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).

Units

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 Directive 2008/53/EC and the other Commission Decisions 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 environmental performance of vehicles has improved considerably over the last decades, as a result of increasingly tighter emissions regulations in Europe. Hence, a fast replacement of older cars with new ones, results in an overall improvement of the environmental performance of the vehicle fleet. Automotive emissions have been regulated in Europe since 1970 with the implementation of the parent European Council Directive 70/220/EEC. This Directive has been the result of an intensive period of consultation between member countries of the European Economic Commission (EEC) at that time. In the beginning of the 1970s, the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE) established Regulation 15 which, together with its various amendments, delivered the first coherent automotive emission control policy in Europe for vehicles with masses less than 3.5 tonnes. Initially, CO and HC emission limits from gasoline vehicles were introduced by the regulations. ECE-R15/02 was the first to introduce a NOx emission limit while ECE-R15/04 ex-tended the legislation to also cover diesel vehicles. On a different level, Council Directive 72/306/EEC provided maximum opacity limits for diesel engines used in automotive applications. This was considered a simplified approach to control smoke emissions from engines. In the period 1985 and 1992, a number of intermediate steps appeared in several countries, in the effort to accelerate the introduction of advanced vehicle technology in each country. Directive 91/441/EEC, implemented in 1992, was the first to introduce the currently well-known “Euro” emission norm, starting with the “Euro 1” step introducing among others the mandatory use of a closed-loop three way catalyst to gasoline vehicles and PM emission control from diesel vehicles. This was followed one year later by Directive 93/59/EEC which implemented corresponding emission limits for light commercial vehicles. Different Euro steps followed in the coming years, introducing Euro 2, Euro 3 and Euro 4 steps with increasingly stringent emission limits. In response to the growing concerns on the health effects of PM, high real-world NOx emissions from diesel cars, as well as air quality exceedences, the Euro 5 and Euro 6 emission control steps were introduced. As a result of this challenging environment, several Regulations and Directives have been already published to bring to the market vehicles that consume less and emit less under real-world conditions. The following table summarises the main pieces of legislation regarding the emission control and fuel efficiency of light duty vehicles that have appeared in the same period to the main Euro 5 and Euro 6 regulations. Summary of vehicle emission control and energy efficiency legislation that have appeared in the post Euro 4 light duty vehicle emission control era.

Regulation

Content

715/2007

Introduction of the regulatory framework for Euro 5 and Euro 6 light duty vehicles

2007/46

New regulation on how vehicle type approval has to be conducted and what this should contain

692/2008

Euro 5 & 6 technical implementation procedures and modalities

79/2009

Extension of the type approval procedure to include H2 vehicles

443/2009

Specific targets on average CO2 emissions from new sales of passenger cars up to 2020

661/2009

Mandatory implementation of Gear Shift Indicators (GSIs) and Tyre  Pressure Monitors (TPMs) on cars

406/2010

Technical implementation and procedures for the type approval of H2 vehicles

510/2011

Specific targets on average CO2 emissions from new sales of light commercial vehicles up to 2020

566/2011

On-board diagnostics (OBD) monitoring and implementation and in-service conformity testing for Euro 6

725/2011

Certification of eco-innovations

65/2012

Technical implementation and procedures for GSIs

459/2012

Introduction of particle number limits for GDIs and OBD thresholds for Euro 6 vehicles

195/2013

Introduction of eco-innovations as part of the type approvals and calculation of the CO2 benefits

At the same time with all these emission control regulatory improvements, fuel-efficiency specific targets, and by that CO2 emission targets, were set independently for cars and vans (please see TERM027 for more information). Heavy duty diesel engines were historically controlled for their smoke levels using an opacimeter, as specified in Council Directive 72/306/EEC, on steady state and free acceleration tests. The legislation imposed maximum limits for the emission of visible smoke. The first gaseous pollutant limits were developed by UNECE in 1982 with the development of Regulation 49 which set the techniques and limits for the control of CO, HC and NOx. The work at UNECE was later taken up by the European Council Directive 88/77/EEC, which first established mandatory limits for new types of on-road diesel engines with regard to their gaseous emissions. Directive 91/542/EEC established the first “Euro” based emission limits for heavy duty engines, including the regulation of PM emissions, as a consequence of the intensive discussions within the activities of Auto Oil I and follow up revisions by the European Council and the Parliament. These two steps aimed at bringing heavy duty vehicle emissions control on par with their light duty counterparts. These earlier steps were followed by Decision 1999/96/EC which, in total, defined four new steps for heavy duty vehicle emission control, panning from 2000 to 2014 (i.e. until the introduction of Euro VI). One significant concept introduced was the definition of Enhanced Environmentally friendly Vehicles (EEVs), i.e. a stringent voluntary emission step introduced as early as in 2000. This step was more stringent even than the much later introduced Euro V. 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. The roadworthiness test directive 2009/40/EC, repealing directive 96/96/EC, harmonises the frequency of roadworthiness tests and details which parts of motor vehicles must be tested. The directive aims at maintaining emissions at a low level throughout the useful life of a vehicle by means of regular exhaust emission tests and ensuring that high emitters are withdrawn until they are brought to a proper state of maintenance. 

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.

Targets

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

  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 725/2011
    Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 725/2011 of 25 July 2011 establishing a procedure for the approval and certification of innovative technologies for reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
  • COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 692/2008 on type-approval of motor vehicles
    COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 692/2008 of 18 July 2008 implementing and amending Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on type-approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 65/2012
    Commission Regulation (EU) No 65/2012 of 24 January 2012 implementing Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards gear shift indicators and amending Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 195/2013
    Commission Regulation (EU) No 195/2013 of 7 March 2013 amending Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulation (EC) No 692/2008 as concerns innovative technologies for reducing CO2 emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 406/2010
    Commission Regulation (EU) No 406/2010 of 26 April 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 79/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 459/2012
    Commission Regulation (EU) No 459/2012 of 29 May 2012 amending Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulation (EC) No 692/2008 as regards emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 6).
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 566/2011
    Commission Regulation (EU) No 566/2011 of 8 June 2011 amending Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Regulation (EC) No 692/2008 as regards access to vehicle repair and maintenance information.
  • Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of life vehicles
    Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on end-of life vehicles - Commission Statements
  • Directive 2007/46/EC
    Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles
  • Regulation (EC) No 79/2009
    Regulation (EC) No 79/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC
  • REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 443/2009
    Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • REGULATION (EC) No 661/2009
    REGULATION (EC) No 661/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor
  • Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 on type approval of motor vehicles
    REGULATION (EC) No 715/2007 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 June 2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information
  • REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
    REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The population of each vehicle category is distributed in age classes, ranging from 1 to 30 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

  • EC4MACS Average age of road vehicles (2000-2013) from  European Consortium for Modelling of Air Pollution and Climate Strategies (EC4MACS).

Uncertainties

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

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Transport Transport (Primary topic)

Tags:
transport
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 033
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Diana Vedlugaite

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
Filed under:
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100