The double problem generated by the aging Spanish car park

Spain has a problem with the car park, since it is very old and this affects not only road safety but also the environment.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 15:15
1 Reads
The double problem generated by the aging Spanish car park

Spain has a problem with the car park, since it is very old and this affects not only road safety but also the environment. For this reason, the Automobile Barcelona is presented as a good opportunity to buy a new car taking advantage of the discounts and other advantages offered by the brands within the framework of the fair.

Despite our country being the second largest vehicle producer in Europe -only surpassed by Germany- and the ninth in the world, increasingly older and more polluting cars circulate on Spanish roads. The average age of the Spanish park is currently 13.5 years, one of the highest in the European Union, when a decade and a half ago, in 2008, it was barely 8.3 years, according to the data reflected in the latest edition. from the Arval Mobility Observatory Barometer.

In a decade and a half, the age of the Spanish park has aged 70% and the number of sales does not invite us to be optimistic to think that the trend will reverse in the coming months. Rather the opposite. The average price of cars has increased by around 40% in the last five years, almost three times more than what the CPI has risen (15.3%) in the same period and the pocket of the Spanish does not seem to be there for joys.

Even so, the brands present at Automobile Barcelona 2023 trust in the comeback to close the year with figures higher than the 813,000 deliveries of the last year. "Prices are what they are, but the worst is over," admits a Renault commercial agent to emphasize that the problem of lack of stock is largely resolved. "At Tesla we deliver the cars from one day to the next," they say from the stand of the American manufacturer. In 2022, the delay in deliveries, in many cases exceeding six months, curbed the desire to change the car of thousands of potential buyers.

The doubts that many motorists admit that they have when choosing a specific technology among the different options offered by the market and the environmental classification are also a brake when considering changing cars. “It is something that we experience daily in the workshops. No one is sure if it is better to buy an electric or electrified car and they ask for our advice. But there are also many people who say that they will continue to buy a diesel or gasoline car as long as they can,” admits José Rodríguez Robayna, a member of the executive committee of the CETRAA automobile repair shop association. "In the end, since people don't know what is best, many choose to buy a second-hand car," he says.

This paradox in the imbalance between the high production of cars and the number of new vehicle registrations in Spain places our country in the caboose in terms of fleet renewal. A study by Ideauto for Anfac, the manufacturers' association, indicates that 47% of the vehicles that circulated on Spanish roads and streets in 2022 are more than 15 years old. This figure rises to 63% in cars over 10 years old.

The problem, however, goes beyond the economic factor, since it also has a double derivative in terms of safety and the environment. Older cars lack driving assistance systems (ADAS) and are usually the most polluting due to the large CO2 particles that are released into the atmosphere.

ADAS use sensors such as cameras, radar or lasers to collect information about the vehicle's environment and improve the safety of both the driver and passengers and other road occupants, including pedestrians and cyclists. They also improve the experience behind the wheel by acting with a different range of autonomy compared to the driver, which has an impact on road safety.

At first, only high-end cars were equipped with ADAS systems, but since July 2022 most of these driving aids are already mandatory in new cars sold in the European Union. ADAS are capable of intervening in various systems of our vehicles, such as steering, signalling, braking or acceleration, among others, minimizing the risks of suffering an accident.

Apart from the safety problems involved in having one of the oldest parks in Europe, the age of the cars that circulate in Spain represents a problem from an environmental point of view. It must be taken into account that, according to ANFAC data, 62% of the circulating fleet -not including motorcycles- is labeled B or lacks a badge, and these vehicles represent 90% of NOx and particulate emissions.

According to the criteria of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) to classify the car park according to the level of emissions, gasoline vehicles registered before the year 2000 and diesel vehicles registered before 2006 are the most polluting. These cars do not have the right to the environmental badge, which means that they cannot circulate in the low emission zones (ZBE), an added problem for the drivers of these vehicles.