Average age of the vehicle fleet

Indicator Fact Sheet
Prod-ID: IND-107-en
Also known as: TERM 033
This is an old version, kept for reference only.

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This page was archived on 26 Aug 2017 with reason: A new version has been published

Assessment made on  01 Jan 2002

Generic metadata



DPSIR: Driving force


Indicator codes
  • TERM 033

Policy issue:  Improve the fleet composition by replacing older, more polluting vehicles with newer, cleaner ones


Key assessment

The average age of passenger cars in a selection of ACs (covering more than 80 % of the total car fleet) was around 11.5 years in 1996, ranging from 6.5 years in Slovenia to 15 in Bulgaria. In the EU this figure was just over 7 years in 1996. This suggests that it takes longer for new vehicle technologies to penetrate into the car fleet in the ACs than in the EU, and that the vehicle fleet in the ACs probably has a worse environmental performance than that in the EU. The same goes for trucks, with an average age in the ACs of 11.4 years for more than two thirds of the entire truck fleet. No data have been obtained on the average age of trucks in the EU.

The EU vehicle fleet is getting older, slowing the rate of clean technology penetration - the average age of the car fleet increased between 1990 and 1999 by one year. No time series on average age is available for the ACs, but the strong growth in passenger cars, combined with a steep growth in the number of end-of-life vehicles in the ACs, indicates rapid vehicle replacement, which probably brings down the average age of vehicles. The introduction of scrappage schemes (as in Hungary since 1993) and banning the import of certain second-hand cars (as in Romania and Slovenia) should further enhance this process.

Outdated public transport equipment (European Commission, 1999a), aircraft fleets and ship fleets is another problem, particularly in the ACs. Implementing EU legislation with respect to technology and safety standards will eventually lead to trains, rail and ships complying with such standards, while obsolete aircraft will gradually be banned from European airports, mainly because of noise restriction policy. The rate at which these improvements will penetrate the rail, ship and aircraft vehicle fleet depends, among other factors, on the extent to which obsolete vehicles are replaced by second-hand ones and the environmental performance of such replacements.

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