How many cars are in the U.S.? 2024

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In 2022, American drivers spent an average of 60.2 minutes driving 30.1 miles per day. The mounting costs of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle — including historically high auto loan interest rates and rising auto insurance premiums — have caused new auto sales to steadily decrease from 2018-2022. Despite a slight uptick in 2021, sales in 2022 were the lowest in a decade. However, the overall number of cars on the road has grown modestly, increasing from roughly 276 million in 2020 to 282 million in 2021. And In 2022, the 255 million driving Americans spent a total of 93 billion hours on the road.

Key insights

As of 2021, there were 283,400,986 commercial and personal vehicles registered to drivers in the United States.

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91.7% of U.S. households own at least one vehicle, and nearly 22% have three or more vehicles.

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California, Texas and Florida have the highest number of registered vehicles, while Washington, D.C., Vermont and Delaware have the lowest number of registered vehicles.

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The price of car ownership is rising — annual new car ownership costs increased more than 13% between 2022 and 2023 to total over $12,182. The average 2023 U.S. auto loan interest rate is 7.2%, the highest rate since 2007.

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U.S. car ownership overview

In 2022, there were 283,400,986 registered vehicles in the United States — 278,870,463 private and commercial vehicles, and 4,530,523 publicly owned vehicles. According to the 2021 U.S. Census Bureau, 91.7% of U.S. households had at least one automobile, and over 21% own three or more vehicles. This is consistent with the 91.5% of households that had at least one vehicle in 2020. 2023 traffic volume has outpaced 2022, with a 1.3% year-over-year increase from October 2022 to October 2023.

Crossover SUVs are the preferred personal vehicle– comprising 45% of U.S. auto sales as of June 2022. The most popular models include the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav-4, and the Nissan Rogue.

808,000 registered pickup trucks logged by the U.S. Census Bureau 2021 Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey.

Car ownership over time (2018-2022)

The number of U.S. households owning at least one vehicle has generally risen from 111,132,564 in 2018 to 119,130,346 in 2022 — an overall increase of about 7.2%. The only exception is the dip in 2020, when driving may have been less of a necessity during COVID-19 lockdowns. The number of households with at least one vehicle jumped nearly 5% from 2020-2021, aligning with the renewed need for driving.

The rising cost of U.S. car ownership

Annual car ownership costs increased more than 13% between 2022 and 2023 to total over $12,182.

The average 2023 U.S. auto loan interest rate jumped two percentage points year-over-year to 7.2% — the highest rate since 2007.8 Despite easing inflation, the cost of vehicle repairs rose 17% between August 2022 and August 2023. Even maintenance measures such as an oil change jumped 9% during the same time frame. Mounting costs, coupled with auto loan interest hikes and P&C insurance premiums, may have deterred younger generations from purchasing cars.

  • Roughly half of all U.S. automobile owners are over 60 years old.
  • As Gen Z continues to come of age, they will likely drive auto sales, as 35% of Gen Zers do not have a car and comprise 63% of prospective auto shoppers.

Registered vehicles by state

California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have the highest number of registered vehicles, which generally correlates with high state populations and/or limited public transit options.

In contrast, Washington, D.C, Delaware, Vermont, Alaska, and Rhode Island have the fewest registered vehicles, in large part due to state population relative to the rest of the country. States with large, densely populated metropolitan areas often have reliable public transit systems, making car ownership less of a necessity.

FAQ

How many licensed drivers are there in the U.S.?

There were an estimated 243.3 million licensed drivers in the United States in 2023.

How many vehicles were sold in 2022?

In 2022, the U.S. auto industry sold 2.86 million cars.

How many cars are in the world in 2023?

By the end of 2024, there will be 1.5 billion cars in the world.

Which country has the most cars per capita?

New Zealand has the highest number of cars per capita at 0.9 vehicles per capita, followed by the U.S. at 0.89 vehicles per capita.


References

  1. “American Driving Survey: 2022.” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Evaluated Jan. 3, 2024. Link Here
  2. Wayland, M. “​​Automakers are cautiously optimistic for a 2023 rebound after worst new vehicle sales in more than a decade.” CNBC. Evaluated Jan. 4, 2024. Link Here
  3. “Highway Statistics Usage 2022.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated Jan. 3, 2024. Link Here
  4. “2022 American Community Survey: 1-Year Estimates Data Profiles.” U.S. Census Bureau. Evaluated Jan. 3, 2024. Link Here
  5. “U.S. light vehicle market in June 2021 and 2022, by segment.” Statista. Evaluated Jan. 21, 2024. Link Here
  6. “October 2023 Volume Trends.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated Jan. 3, 2024. Link Here
  7. “Annual New Car Ownership Costs Boil Over $12K.” American Automobile Association. Evaluated Jan. 3, 2024. Link Here
  8. Sola, A.T. “As interest rates, inventory issues keep car costs high, what drivers are doing to make ownership possible.” CNBC. Evaluated Jan. 3, 2024. Link Here
  9. “US Car Owners as of 2021, by age group.” Statista. Evaluated Jan. 4, 2024. Link Here
  10. “How consumers navigate the road to buying a new car.“ Kantar Research. Evaluated Jan. 4, 2024. Link Here

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