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Number of vehicles per person is still down from its maximum in 2006

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).


In conclusion:

  • 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.



Many households have more than one car, especially in the USA.
If one of those cars was an EV, even a short range one like a Gen 1 Leaf, it would be a very good thing.
If you have access to an ICE vehicle as well as an EV, you shouldn't have any range problems.
The insurance companies should be able to work out a way of having a floating policy that covers two cars, one at a time, to keep down the costs of dual car ownership.
What I call a "dual car PHEV" solution.
You could also use a neighbour's car as the ICE, but once you involve other people, things can get legal and complicated.


We don't need 200 million cars for 200 million adults if we have ride
sharing and transit. Car pools are a good idea to save energy and money.


How much of this is driven by demographics? What are the number of vehicles per licensed driver?


Toyota has some very useful hybrids. If they offered a complete "commuter package" as an LLC for four people including lease/insurance/factory maintenance . Then


Platinum lux 36 month lease 637 and 4963 down.
If the insurance -maintenance was 160/mo then 800/4= 200 month to ride in luxury and get 120/mpg/person.

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