How Many Americans Own Cars? 51 Car Ownership Statistics

marc tuwiner
by Marc Tuwiner · May 26th, 2022

Did you know that there are 275 million vehicles registered in the U.S?

You’re about to see a list of up-to-date car ownership statistics.

Read on to find new stats, facts, and trends related to:

  • Car ownership statistics
  • How many cars are in the US?
  • Car ownership by year
  • Car ownership by city
  • Car ownership by state
  • What percentage of Americans own a car?
  • Global car ownership statistics
  • A whole lot more

Let's dive in!

Key Car Ownership Statistics

  1. There are 275,924,442 million vehicles registered in the United States as of 2020.
  2. The number of registered vehicles in the US increased by 4.7% from 2015 to 2020.
  3. 91.5% of households had at least one vehicle available in 2020. This means only 8.5% didn't.
  4. Montana has the highest average registered vehicles per household in the country - 4.5.
  5. By the end of 2020, there were 1,019,260 electric vehicles registered in the US.
  6. It might surprise you that trucks, not automobiles, were the most popular type of vehicle in 2020.
  7. 96.2% of households in Wyoming have access to at least one vehicle, compared to only 71.0% in New York and just 64.6% in Washington, D.C.
  8. California, Texas, and Florida have the most vehicle registrations, largely due to their population and size.
  9. New York City has the lowest percentage of vehicle ownership in the U.S.

Chapter 1: How Many Cars Are In The US?

There are 275,924,442 million vehicles registered in the United States as of 2020.

number of vehicles registered in the united states

More trucks are owned in the U.S. than any other vehicle type. Cars come in second place before motorcycles and buses.

In fact, the number of registered vehicles in the US increased by 4.7% from 2015 to 2020.

U.S. Private and Commercial Ownership By Vehicle Type (FHWA)

Automobile Buses Trucks Motorcycles ALL
107,180,635 575,193 156,080,086 8,566,564 272,402,478

There is a very noticable difference in the type of car ownership in the U.S. While there are less than 4.1 million publicly owned vehicles, there are more than 272.4 million privately owned vehicles which mean together, they comprise the more 275 million vehicles owned in the United States.

U.S. Vehicle Ownership by Type (FHWA)

Private and commercial Publicly owned vehicles Total motor vehicles
272,402,478 4,088,696 276,491,174
Read More: Average Miles Driven Per Year

Chapter 2: Car Ownership By Year

The number of total registered vehicles in the US is steadily growing year-over-year. From 2014 to 2020, there has been consistent growth as there were about 260 million vehicles in 2014, but by 2020, that number had increased to more than 275 million total registered U.S. vehicles.

number of registered vehicles in usa is growing

Car Ownership Year-over-Year, 2014-2020 (FHWA)

Year Total U.S. registered vehicles
2020 275,924,442
2019 276,491,174
2018 273,595,656
2017 272,429,803
2016 268,799,083
2015 263,610,219
2014 260,350,938

Chapter 3: Car Ownership By City

Depending on where you live in the U.S., vehicle ownership varies significantly.

There are several factors that impact the number of vehicles owned in a city, including size, population, demographics, and more.

Bankrate's analysis recently found that vehicle ownership is highest outside U.S. metropolitan areas. For example, there are several areas in Texas, California, Arizona, and Colorado that have the lowest percentage of vehicles among households. Keep reading:

10 U.S. Cities with the Highest Percentage of Vehicle Ownership

Rank City Percentage of households that own vehicles
1 Murietta, CA 99.3%
2 League City, Texas 99.0%
3 Surprise, Arizona 98.7%
4 West Jordan, Utah 98.7%
5 Cary, North Carolina 98.6%
6 Pearland, Texas 98.6%
7 Highlands Ranch, Colorado 98.5%
8 Centennial, Colorado 98.3%
9 Gilbert, Arizona 98.3%
10 Elk Grove, California 98.2%

Some of America's largest metropolitan areas have the lowest vehicle ownership rates, which is mainly due to ready access to public transportation, as well as the high cost of parking your car in these cities.

New York City has the lowest percentage of vehicle ownership in the U.S. Followed by NYC is the nearby metropolis Newark located in New Jersey.

Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts are areas with lower vehicle ownership among U.S. households.

10 U.S. Cities with the Lowest Percentage of Vehicle Ownership

Rank City Percentage of households that own vehicles
1 New York, New York 45.6%
2 Newark, New Jersey 59.7%
3 Washington, D.C. 62.7%
4 Jersey City, New Jersey 62.9%
5 Cambridge, Massachusetts 63.2%
6 Boston, Massachusetts 66.2%
7 Paterson, New Jersey 67.0%
8 Hartford, Connecticut 67.4%
9 San Francisco, California 70.1%
10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 70.5%

The state with the most cars per household in the U.S. is California, with 9 of the top 10 U.S. cities for vehicle ownership.

10 U.S. Cities with the Most Cars Per Household

Rank City Percentage of households that own vehicles
1 Murrieta, California 2.36%
2 Jurupa Valley, California 2.32%
3 Moreno Valley, California 2.32%
4 West Jordan, Utah 2.3%
5 Simi Valley, California 2.29%
6 Corona, California 2.29%
7 Norwalk, California 2.27%
8 Pomona, California 2.27%
9 Fontana, California 2.27%
10 Santa Ana, California 2.25%

Chapter 4: Car Ownership By State

State Private and Commercial Public All Private and Commercial Motor Vehicles* Total for All Private and Publicly Owned Vehicles*
Alabama 2,065,223 43,886 2,109,108 5,288,208
Alaska 174,496 4,020 178,516 795,275
Arizona 2,387,462 18,496 2,405,959 5,982,559
Arkansas 874,634 12,013 886,647 2,902,111
California 14,654,371 240,541 14,894,912 31,247,270
Colorado 1,724,841 16,377 1,741,218 5,412,404
Connecticut 1,260,063 891 1,260,954 2,878,548
Delaware 422,002 1,460 423,462 1,016,927
District of Columbia 184,832 18,939 203,771 350,463
Florida 7,732,491 108,698 7,841,189 17,833,720
Georgia 3,445,471 54,049 3,499,520 8,594,567
Hawaii 492,034 6,958 498,992 1,272,361
Idaho 599,749 2,421 602,170 1,954,528
Illinois 4,286,622 36,228 4,322,850 10,691,947
Indiana 2,183,343 2,636 2,185,979 6,223,460
Iowa 1,210,633 11,210 1,221,843 3,786,328
Kansas 943,138 4,009 947,148 2,682,337
Kentucky 1,638,625 30,542 1,669,167 4,383,223
Louisiana 1,321,964 27,756 1,349,720 3,802,746
Maine 370,051 3,817 373,868 1,130,056
Maryland 1,841,711 27,283 1,868,994 4,203,994
Massachusetts 2,085,100 3,574 2,088,674 5,061,260
Michigan 2,810,414 21,085 2,831,499 8,440,065
Minnesota 1,821,645 15,186 1,836,831 5,425,885
Mississippi 803,827 2,234 806,061 2,066,681
Missouri 2,035,762 17,026 2,052,788 5,534,289
Montana 438,642 477 439,118 1,900,806
Nebraska 647,411 14,453 661,864 1,968,479
Nevada 1,052,571 7,618 1,060,188 2,546,583
New Hampshire 486,514 2,710 489,224 1,363,379
New Jersey 2,616,279 22,982 2,639,261 6,033,015
New Mexico 635,272 6,566 641,838 1,825,421
New York 4,425,722 18,669 4,444,391 11,389,158
North Carolina 3,390,087 44,478 3,434,565 8,527,388
North Dakota 224,952 3,929 228,881 903,668
Ohio 4,380,516 42,732 4,423,248 10,901,279
Oklahoma 1,249,360 5,774 1,255,134 3,706,624
Oregon 1,399,619 25,181 1,424,799 3,919,157
Pennsylvania 4,222,743 45,067 4,267,811 10,800,315
Rhode Island 389,425 7,083 396,508 868,942
South Carolina 1,724,396 76,847 1,801,243 4,516,143
South Dakota 337,367 5,502 342,868 1,280,969
Tennessee 2,137,154 48,074 2,185,229 5,817,887
Texas 8,223,542 90,080 8,313,623 23,007,146
Utah 910,430 11,216 921,645 2,430,275
Vermont 202,897 3,724 206,621 620,428
Virginia 3,145,500 41,526 3,187,026 7,647,692
Washington 2,877,533 66,381 2,943,914 7,377,028
West Virginia 525,159 11,488 536,646 1,668,113
Wisconsin 1,973,948 30,053 2,004,002 5,666,400
Wyoming 193,092 3,127 196,219 843,671
TOTAL 109,813,571 1,428,561 269,417,884 273,595,656

Chapter 5: Car Ownership Demographics

By Race

Here are up-to-date car ownership statistics by race.

If you'd like more information on statistics surrounding car ownership and race, read more at Governing.com, the University of Michigan, and UC Berkeley News.

  • In 2006, researchers at UC Berkeley found black households were significantly less likely to own a car than were white households. This showed a growing gap between car ownership in white and black households that spanned various levels of income.
  • 4.6 of White Americans reported living in a home without any access to a vehicle.
  • 19% of African Americans reported living in a home without any vehicle access.
  • 13.7% of Latino households reported not having any access to a vehicle.
  • White Americans accounted for 64.7% of car buyers in 2015 in the United States.
  • Hispanic people accounted for 12.2% of U.S. car buyers in 2015.
  • In 2015, the purchasing power of African- and Asian-Americans put together made up less than 15% of total car buying power in the U.S.

By Age

Research published by the Federal Reserve shows the average age of a new car or truck buyer is around 53 years old.

average age of a vehicle buyer

Over the past decade, this age has increased a noticable amount, and among new vehicle buyers, the 55+ age group has a 15% increase since 2000.

  Males Females
19 and Under 3.94% 3.8%
20-24 7.89% 7.5%
25-29 8.98% 8.8%
30-34 8.85% 8.7%
35-39 8.65% 8.6%
40-44 7.96% 7.9%
45-49 8.49% 8.4%
50-54 8.59% 8.5%
55-59 9.01% 9.0%
60-64 8.29% 8.4%
65-69 6.90% 7.1%
70-74 5.30% 5.5%
75-79 3.45% 3.6%
80-84 2.06% 2.3%
85 and older 1.64% 1.9%
  • In 2000, the average age of new-vehicle buyers was 43 years old. Eleven years later, the average age is around 53 years old, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, the share of new vehicles purchased by those aged 16 to 34 decreased by around 6%, according to Hedges & Company.
  • In approximately 15 years, the share of new vehicles purchased by people aged 35 to 49 decreased by 9%.
  • Those aged 16 to 34 today are the least frequent buyers of new vehicles.
  • The average age of new-vehicle buyers increased by almost 7 years between 2000 and 2015, according to Hedges & Company. The aging of the population reflected some of that increase, but also changes in buying patterns among people in various age groups.

By Income Level

There is a sharp increase in vehicle ownership once income surpasses $50,000. Low income earners find it very difficult to have their own vehicle largely due to the high running costs of owning a car.

car ownership demographics by income

By Gender

In the United States, men are much more likely to own cars than women, even though more women hold a valid driver's license as of 2019. As of 2020, women accounted for around 35.4% of car owners in the US.

car ownership demographics by gender

Chapter 6: What Percentage Of Americans Own A Car?

93% of U.S. households had access to at least one car in 2019, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.

percentage of americans that own a car

Vehicle ownership is increasing in an analysis of a 5-year period from 2015 to 2019. Interestingly, the number of households with one or two vehicles has decreased over time.

On the other hand, there has been a consistent increase in vehicles of three or more per household.

This shows a strong indication that since American households are growign in size, the number of vehicles is also increasing to accommodate more people.

Studies also show an increase in income, allowing Americans to afford the car payment in addition to costs of insurance and maintenance.

Percentage Of Americans That Own More Than One Car

Only 9% of households in the United States don't own even a single car, which means 91% of all U.S. households own at least one car. Interestingly, 33% of households own a single car, leaving 33.1% that own two cars, 24% that own three, and 3.4% that own more than five vehicles.

percentage of usa households that own a car

U.S. Residential Vehicle Accessibility

2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
No vehicles available 8.6% 8.7% 8.8% 9.0% 9.1%
1 vehicle available 32.7% 33.0% 33.2% 33.6% 33.7%
2 vehicles available 37.2% 37.3% 37.4% 37.3% 37.4%
3+ vehicles available 21.4% 21.0% 20.6% 20.1% 19.8%

Chapter 7: Global Car Ownership Statistics

How much of the world’s population owns cars?

According to the most recent estimates, the world's population is 7.6 billion, and with an estimated 1.4 billion cars on the road, that means around 18% of the world's population owns cars.

global car ownership statistics

Which country has the highest car ownership?

China has the highest car ownership in the world in 2021, with 302 million cars, and in 2009 the country became the world's largest new car market.

country with highest car ownership is china

In fact, in 2011, 80 million cars and commercial vehicles were built, led by China, with 18.4 million motor vehicles manufactured that same year.

How many cars are owned globally?

There are 1.42 billion cars owned globally - including 1.06 billion passenger cars and 363 million commercial vehicles.

number of cars owned globally

How big is the global car market?

Global car sales are expected to reach almost 70 million automobiles sold by the end of 2021, an increase from 2020.

how big is the car market

China is the only country that surpasses the U.S. in car ownership. As of 2017, China has more vehicles per household than the U.S. In fact, more than a quarter of all vehicles sold in the world that year were sold in China. Chinese car buyers purchased 27.5 million vehicles that year alone, and the trend is expected to continue due to the country's fast-growing population.

Chapter 8: Frequently Asked Questions

Does everyone in America own a car?

No, not everyone in America owns a car, as around 9% of households in America do not own a car.

does everyone in america own a car

Are there more cars than people in America?

The overall number of cars in America is less than the country's population. With that said, the US has one of the highest numbers of motor vehicles per capita in the world (around 840 per 1,000 people).

are there more cars than people in america

However, the data on how many Americans own cars varies significantly based on the location.

For example, states such as Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming have a per capita availability of cars that's above 1, while other states like New York and New Jersey have it closer to 0.5.

Sources

Read More