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Study: Nearly 35% of US Households with a Vehicle Have at Least Three

In a study of households with at least one vehicle, Experian Automotive, a part of global information services company Experian, found that households with three or more cars are the single largest group among American car owners.

Vehicle ownership in the US is an average 2.28 vehicles per household. Experian Automotive found that single-vehicle households represents nearly 34% of the market, and that two-vehicle households present 31%. However, households with three or more vehicles maintain the single largest category, at nearly 35%.

The number of vehicles per household varies across states and regions, with Washington, D.C., having the highest single-car percentage (62.5%), and South Dakota the highest percentage of households with five or more vehicles (12.79%).

The study also found that as the number of vehicles per household increases, the types of vehicles shift. Households with only domestic vehicles come out on top among two-vehicle households, constituting nearly 40% of the category.

When moving up to three- and four-vehicle households, Americans tend to prefer a blend of domestic and import vehicles, at 49.8% and 59.87%, respectively. Households having only new vehicles also lead the two-vehicle category, at 43.5%.

As the number of vehicles increases, so does the blend between new and used vehicles, with 60% of three-vehicle households and more than 70% of four-vehicle households having a mix of the two.

Other findings in the study include:

  • The most common pairing of vehicles in American households with two to four cars is a full-sized pickup truck and a standard, mid-range vehicle.

  • Of households with two or more vehicles in which one is an SUV, nearly 25% also own a pickup truck.

  • The percentage of one-vehicle households for those earning $250,000 or more annually is 35%—about the same as households with incomes of $25,000 to $34,999



I'd like to see more data on the composition of the families with multiple vehicles. Now that kids don't move out anymore I suspect that we may be looking at extended families.


No reason why at least one of those couldn't be an EV.


Ric Romero reporting:

19 yr daughter has a car(Toyota), 17 year old son has a PU (Ford) and a dirt bike (Kawasaki), wife's car (VW TDI), my truck (Chevy), the motorhome (Ford), two 4-wheelers (Honda),the ski boat (Mercury) and the 1966 'project' that I have been meaning to finish for the last decade.

Wow, that's like 10. It's called the middleclass American family.


No wonder peoples are in so much debt. I wonder what percentage of those vehicles are not yet paid off.


Sounds about right. Not counting the boat my parents (who don't have any children at home with them) have four vehicles - two sedans and two pickup trucks. One of the trucks doesn't run, and the other is used for my dad's small-engine repair business and for towing the boat. The sedans are because the truck gets crappy mileage and his day job is an 80 mile round-trip commute.

My wife and I have two vehicles, and I'd have two more if I had room for them - a small truck for occasional hauling needs, and a project car (a '73 Buick Centurion would be awesome - I could drive it on Fridays and on Earth Day) to keep me amused.

Tim Russell

3 vehicles a '02 Ford Taurus, '00 Ford Mustang V6 and a '04 Honda Accord V6 coupe. All are paid for. I use a trailer to pickup stuff that doesn't fit in a car so I have no need for a truck.


With a household of four (me, wife, 2 kids), we have an '00 Odyssey minivan, an '01 Mercedes C230, a '02 BMW F650 street bike, and Yamaha and Honda dirt bikes. I'm looking to roll over the Mercedes to a serial hybrid or high mileage diesel hybrid when available, and I'd like to roll over the minivan to a mid-size, high mileage diesel pickup that can tow a medium size trailer. Timeframe is 2-4 years as the kids go off to college.


3 vehicles, 3 person household (two children):
Compact car (10,000 annual miles), motorcycle (500 - 1000 annual miles), and my bicycle (0 miles since moving to a city that has no real bike lanes).

David Cabral

My wife drives a 2003 VW Passat. I drive a 1998 Toyota Camry. Both are paid for.
My Camry has 230,000 miles on it. I plan on trading in the Camry for either a new Prius (08? 09?) , a used Corolla, used Matrix, or used Pontiac Vibe. I might consider a Ford Fusion Hybrid if they come out anytime soon.
Regarding the article, how about the families with zero cars? I imagine the percentage would be small, but was hoping to see if it was at least 1% of the population. Lots of people in Washington DC, Boston, New York City, San Fran, etc. have given up on cars due to using public transportation and Zipcar.


Holy driving! 98 with 230,000 miles!!!

I have only amassed 108,000 miles on my 1999 Mitsubishi.


I might win the low drive miles...1989 Ford Taurus SHO with 128,000 miles. I live close to work and if I take a trip I fly.

The car has a 3.0L quad cam aluminum engine with a manual 5 speed. It gets 18 mpg around town and 27 mpg on the highway with an overdrive 5th gear. I have fixed it up so that to me, it is like having a new car again...without the payments :)


I win! I dont have a car as I dont need one. I walk where I need to be most times and carpool all the rest as I hate driving and almost never go anywhere this works fine for me and the planet too. As I get my weight down and hopefully get some of my agoraphobia comtrolled I only plan to walk farther and MAYBE if I MUST get a cheapo little bev. The other 2 adults here use old 32 mpg mid/large sedans baught used and paid for.

sjc can not beat no fuel consumption and no emissions, that is for sure. I like buying American cars, I think it is good for the U.S., but I am not going to buy or lease a new one every few years just for status or to keep the U.S. car companies in business. They have a major lessen to learn and GM just learned yet another one by losing almost $39 billion in 2007.


four person family - 3 vehicles
1999 Camry, 2004 Sienna, 2007 Camry Hybrid

The kids are old enough now that we no longer need the Sienna, but it still serves as a hauler if I take a bunch of people out for lunch.

My next vehicle: It depends. If it is for me, I would look for a BEV commuter car, but it's a little frightening travelling the beltline in Madison with a teeny vehicle.


I think future cars may be big on the inside but small on the outside. Light but able to hold the road and safe in crashes through excellent CAD/CAM.


"Households with only domestic vehicles come out on top among two-vehicle households, constituting nearly 40% of the category.....Households having only new vehicles also lead the two-vehicle category, at 43.5%."

Any over lap in these groups would seem to be the critical demographic, although without transparency, ie open source, this report is tabloid. There is no reason to bet against it, but the speculative nature of the markets and credit ratings, which this company does, is in dire need of some transparency. If the results are significant, the market for a single all purpose vehicle is clear.


Mi first car is an underground train, my other car is a bus. If Ken's promises of more cycling routes will be fulfilled, my third car would be a bike.

Central London is perfect for commuting as everything is connected by public transport day and night. For all the other travels London has a great car sharing scheme and there's always car rental/train/airplane for longer trips. I guess being single and childless also helps reducing the needs of personal transport.

Anyway, I think these are good news for you americans, you have a lot of scrap metal to recycle when you won't afford anymore to pay for gas.


This study clearly shows that hybrids and especially BEVs do not need to cover all conceivable needs. If you already have both a truck and a minivan in your garage, there is no need for a "short-daily-commute+run-to-the-supermarket" BEV to have long range or high power.

Anyway, I'm guessing Mitsubishi could sell as many 100 mile range BEVs as they could make at a reasonable price. Ramping up production of batteries and high quality electric motors may not go as fast as many readers of this site would like.

Tom Street

Wintermane and Alessio. Good for both of you.

For those living in cities with decent to very good public transporation and walkability, I can attest that a car is just an unnecessary nuisance.

For trips where it is not feasible to take pubic transportation, a rental car makes a lot of sense.

For other trips within the city where public transportation is not feasible, short term sharing services will fill the bill.

I used to live in Frankfurt where one could take the U Bahn to the department store and have things delivered directly to one's door. I traded my car for a bicycle,literally, and have never been happier.

Alas, for those who live in most American suburbs or exurbs, it is probably necessary to have at least one car. Good point above,though. If people are going to have multiple cars,anyway, it seems silly to try to pursure the all purpose car. A 100 mile BEV would work quite nicely for 99% of the population.

Regardless of all of the above, I think we are going to be forced into largely car free cities in the future. We simply cannot solve the twin problems of peak oil and global warming going forward without a radical change in the way to get mobility.


For a 6 person family we have: a Renault Espace (minivan) a Vespa ET4 125 cc scooter (rarely used) and some bikes (used nearly every day).

If I am too sick to cycle, I use the Vespa.
If it is pouring rain, I take the bus and tram (to work).

If I want to go to town I usually take the bus.
I walk the kids to school.

All other journeys, we use the car.

They key thing here is we have 5 modes of transport available and we use the most appropriate for any given journey. Note there is no underground (yet) in Dublin, just buses and a faraway tram.

Just because you posses a car doesn't mean you have to use it all the time.


Well said...I wish some of those folks with the large SUVs would leave them in the garage more often and help us all out.

Aris Brilis

I constitute a single person household and I have a silver Ford Mustang coupe. I'm thinking of buying another domestic vehicle, probably a full-size SUV (Yukon Denali, Suburban, Expedition?), full-size car (Charger, STS?) or a Corvette. I really like American cars. They are beautiful and they have passion and soul. You can find that in a Corolla...NOT!


Family of 5, 5 cars, only two get driven.

1980 VW rabbit convertible, 27MPG city, 35MPG highway.
2000 VW passat wagon, 20MPG city, 28MPG highway, family hauler (and let me tell you, fitting 3 car seats in the back is a very tight fit).
1981 VW rabbit convertible, parts car for the 1980, must get rid of it soon.
1978 VW rabbit racecar project. Fun to build, don't know if I'll ever drive it. It's been a project for the past 5 years.
1969 VW bug, restored and very pretty, hardly gets driven.

So yes, lets of scrap metal. All are paid for, though.


2 single white males 4 vehicles 4 bedroom 3500 sqfoot house. '97 Ford Explorer 4x4, '02 Ford Explorer 4x4, '08 Lexus IS-250 OMG so sweet, and a 06 Charger RT yea its a HEMI baby :) Trucks are daily drivers; sports cars for the weekends. Its called being Upper Middle Class gas prices are a small part of our disposable income thats why the SUV's get the miles and the higher value sports cars only get driven on the weekends.

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