By Michael Sivak, Sivak Applied Research.
This is my latest update on the recent changes in the number of registered vehicles in the United States. In the previous analysis, I examined the data from 1984 through 2017. This analysis adds new calculations for 2018. The focus in this series is on vehicles per person, as opposed to total number of vehicles (which depends, in part, on the continuously increasing size of the U.S. population).
The calculations used the total numbers of light-duty vehicles (cars and light trucks) from the Federal Highway Administration and the resident populations from ProQuest. (Several of the latter values were recently updated.) The chart below shows the results.
The main findings (summarized in the table below) are as follows: Vehicles per person increased by 18.2% from 1984 to 2006 (from 0.665 vehicles to 0.786 vehicles), then decreased by 5.2% by 2012 (to 0.745 vehicles), and then increased by 3.0% by 2018 (to 0.767 vehicles).
Vehicles per person reached a maximum in 2006, two years after a maximum for distance driven per person.
Vehicles per person has been on a rebound since 2012, but it is still down from 2006 by 2.4%. In comparison, distance driven per person is down by 4.9% from its maximum.
Michael Sivak is the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.