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In this article, we thought we'd dig up some interesting facts about the number of cars that are currently being driven on our planet. We think you will be surprised by the magnitude. And the interesting part isn't just the number of cars currently in use, it's the velocity of increase. For more details, read on.

Today, how many cars are on the road?

Determining the total number on cars driven in the world is an inexact science but some firms have given it a shot. According to our technical source at Warsaw Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Warsaw, IN, 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. Other firms have arrived at similar estimates.

Most are in the US

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. About ¼ the total in the world.

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 17.2 people, there are a lot of people in China, about 1.3 billion. Doing the math here (1.3 billion/17.2) yields about 76 million cars in the country. This is just a third of the United States, at the present time.

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 place for sales. That's because the US is what is considered a mature market where car sales generally represent the replacement of older vehicles. According to Edmunds, 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 20 million units per year by 2017, possibly reaching as high as 40 million per year by the end of the current decade. That would be vastly larger than the size of the U.S. market in just a few years!

The future

While the possibility of such enormous sales numbers are exciting for the world's car manufacturers, environmentalists are concerned about the negative effects. At the present velocity, the world's population of cars is expected to double to 2.4 billion. This obviously will provide opportunities and challenges for the industries involved in the automotive industry.

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