U.S. Driving Season Suffers Hit From Covid-19 Pandemic

This article first appeared on the BNEF mobile app and the Bloomberg Terminal.

  • U.S. drivers traveled 36% fewer miles than expected in April
  • Vehicle miles traveled per capita recovered most in Sunbelt

Driving activity in the U.S. has recovered somewhat since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, but still rests well below business-as-usual expectations. The recovery is more pronounced in some states than others.

In April, U.S. drivers traveled 36% fewer miles than usual. In June, vehicle miles traveled fell 16% below normal. June is the most recent month for which data published by the Federal Highway Authority is available.

Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021 Read the executive summary report here

Staggered re-openings and Covid-19 resurgences produced a mixed recovery in road travel across U.S. states during the peak driving season in May-August. Sunbelt states like Florida, Texas and New Mexico, which had the biggest gains in vehicle miles traveled per resident over the last 10 years, have recovered two-thirds or more from their April lows. States with stagnant miles traveled like Pennsylvania and Virginia are roughly halfway back to normal.

Whether vehicle miles traveled will ever converge with pre-Covid-19 trajectories is unclear.

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