How Many Cars?

In this article, we thought we'd dig up some interesting facts about the number of cars that are currently being used on our planet. We think you will be surprised by the magnitude. And the interesting part isn't the number of cars currently in use, it's the velocity of increase. By the year 2030, some estimates say the number of cars on Earth will double that of what we currently have. That's a doubling of the number of cars on this planet in just 12 years.

How many cars are on the road?

Determining the total number on cars in the world is an inexact science but some firms have given it a shot. According to Ward's, an automotive trade journal, the number is 1.2 billion. They arrived at this number by incorporating vehicle registrations with historical trends and other indicators. It is important to note that this number includes passenger cars, light-, medium and heavy-duty trucks but not off-road and other vehicles.

Most are in the US

Guess where the largest number of cars per capita is? Guess "here in the United States" and you'd be right.

In the US, there is approximately 1 car per 1.3 people, a ratio that has held for many years. So, if you take the total population of the US, approximately 325 million, and do the math, you end up with about 250 million cars.

The next largest country is -big surprise- China. While the ratio of cars to population is a fraction of what it is in the United States (1 car per 1.3 people), there are a lot of people in China – 1.3 billion. Doing the math here (1.4 billion/17.2) yields about 76 million cars in the country. Following the US and China are large countries like India, Brazil, Russia, Italy and others.

Market size does not equal sales

While the US has, by far, the largest number of cars on the road, it is not the largest market. According to our subject matter consultants at Reed Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram of St. Joseph, MO, that's because the US is what is considered a "mature market" where car sales essentially represent the replacement of older vehicles. In 2017, approximately 28 million new cars were sold in the United States.

By contrast, most analysts feel the Chinese car market is on track to cross sales of 20 million units per year within a few years, possibly reaching as high as 40 million per year by the end of the current decade. That would be three times the size of the U.S. market.