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Last updated: February 7, 2023

Car Ownership Statistics 2024

If you own a car, you’re part of the 91 percent of Americans who do.

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Second to housing, car ownership is the biggest financial cost for most Americans. Although many more people work from home now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, public transportation isn’t accessible nationwide, so most people still depend on cars in their everyday lives. We’ve compiled the most important car ownership statistics you need to know, examining trends from 1960 to 2023 and beyond.

How Many Americans Own Cars?

The average American is a car owner. Across the country, 91 percent of American households have one vehicle or more as of 2017, the last year the Federal Highway Administration released national data. The plurality owns one car, while 33 percent own two. Only 3 percent own five or more cars.1

Number of vehicles in households in the United States in 2017

Vehicle Registration by Year

It isn’t actually clear how many people own cars in the U.S. As of 2020, there were nearly 276 million cars registered in the country, but unfortunately, there’s no good national data on rates of car ownership versus leasing.

Number of registered vehicles in the United States in thousands

By Location

Registered Cars in Each State

In most states, the household-to-vehicle ratio is one to one. In a few states — Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, North Dakota, and Kentucky — cars outnumber licensed drivers by two to one or more.

State All private and motor vehicles registered in the U.S., 2020
Alabama 5,208,055
Alaska 773,487
Arizona 5,994,049
Arkansas 2,873,523
California 29,772,776
Colorado 5,289,701
Connecticut 2,861,733
Delaware 1,000,965
District of Columbia 319,157
Florida 18,170,725
Georgia 8,670,440
Hawaii 1,222,626
Idaho 1,906,586
Illinois 10,489,500
Indiana 6,174,483
Iowa 3,747,148
Kansas 2,587,402
Kentucky 4,364,808
Louisiana 3,771,473
Maine 1,105,912
Maryland 4,134,474
Massachusetts 5,021,482
Michigan 8,378,579
Minnesota 5,638,650
Mississippi 2,044,918
Missouri 5,531,016
Montana 1,948,225
Nebraska 1,888,168
Nevada 2,525,687
New Hampshire 1,346,800
New Jersey 5,944,293
New Mexico 1,755,205
New York 11,259,986
North Carolina 8,595,707
North Dakota 880,524
Ohio 10,481,200
Oklahoma 3,708,789
Oregon 4,014,446
Pennsylvania 10,563,010
Rhode Island 849,912
South Carolina 4,356,396
South Dakota 1,271,188
Tennessee 5,699,910
Texas 22,100,167
Utah 2,443,052
Vermont 596,297
Virginia 7,464,143
Washington 7,068,917
West Virginia 1,617,933
Wisconsin 5,532,287
Wyoming 845,095

Cities With the Highest Car Ownership Rates

The cities in the U.S. with the highest car ownership rates are all in the Western states, where public transportation is less available and people are more dependent on cars for daily transportation.

The city with the highest rate is Murrieta, California, where 99 percent of households had vehicles in 2016, according to data from Vanderbilt University.2 Like in many other cities in California, Texas, Arizona, and Colorado, plus in Southern states like North Carolina, buses are the only form of public transportation available in Murrieta.3

Jurisdiction Percentage of households with vehicles in 2016 Number of vehicles per household in 2016
Murrieta, California 99% 2.36
League City, Texas 99% 2.15
Surprise, Arizona 99% 1.87
West Jordan, Utah 99% 2.30
Cary, North Carolina 99% 1.89
Pearland, Texas 99% 2.18
Highlands Ranch,

Colorado

99% 2.04
Centennial, Colorado 98% 2.15
Gilbert, Arizona 98% 2.08
Elk Grove, California 98% 2.21

Cities With the Lowest Car Ownership Rates

Densely populated cities in the Northeast, plus San Francisco in the West, have robust public transportation systems and the lowest car ownership rates in the U.S. New York, New York, has the lowest rate, with only 54 percent of households owning cars. Also on the list are Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey, which are not far from New York City.

Jurisdiction Percentage of households without vehicles in 2016 Number of vehicles per household in 2016
New York, New York 54% 0.63
Newark, New Jersey 40% 0.89
District of

Columbia

37% 0.86
Jersey City, New Jersey 37% 0.85
Cambridge,

Massachusetts

37% 0.86
Boston, Massachusetts 34% 0.94
Paterson, New Jersey 33% 1.00
Hartford, Connecticut 33% 0.99
San Francisco, California 30% 1.10
Philadelphia,

Pennsylvania

30% 1.05

Worldwide

Globally, in terms of the rate of motor vehicles per 1,000 people, the U.S. comes second to Monaco, which has a whopping 899 cars for every 1,000 people compared to 797 per 1,000 people in the U.S. The average across all countries is 213, making these two nations major outliers.4

Entity Motor vehicles per 1,000 people in 2014
Afghanistan 28
Albania 124
Algeria 114
Angola 38
Antigua and Barbuda 230
Argentina 314
Armenia 103
Australia 717
Austria 578
Azerbaijan 101
Bahamas 81
Bahrain 537
Bangladesh 3
Barbados 469
Belarus 362
Belgium 559
Belize 174
Benin 22
Bhutan 57
Bolivia 68
Bosnia and Herzegovina 214
Botswana 133
Brazil 249
Brunei 510
Bulgaria 393
Burkina Faso 12
Burundi 6
Cambodia 21
Cameroon 14
Canada 607
Cape Verde 101
Central African Republic 4
Chad 6
Chile 184
China 83
Colombia 71
Comoros 33
Congo 27
Costa Rica 177
Cote d’Ivoire 20
Croatia 380
Cuba 38
Cyprus 532
Czechia 485
Democratic Republic of Congo 5
Denmark 480
Djibouti 28
Dominica 163
Dominican Republic 128
Ecuador 71
Egypt 45
El Salvador 94
Equatorial Guinea 13
Eritrea 11
Estonia 476
Eswatini 89
Ethiopia 3
Fiji 179
Finland 612
France 578
Gabon 14
Gambia 7
Georgia 155
Germany 572
Ghana 30
Greece 624
Grenada 122
Guam 677
Guatemala 68
Guinea 5
Guinea-Bissau 33
Guyana 95
Haiti 12
Honduras 95
Hong Kong 77
Hungary 345
Iceland 745
India 18
Indonesia 60
Iran 200
Iraq 50
Ireland 513
Israel 346
Italy 679
Jamaica 188
Japan 591
Jordan 165
Kazakhstan 219
Kenya 24
Kiribati 146
Kuwait 527
Kyrgyzstan 59
Laos 20
Latvia 319
Lebanon 434
Lesotho 4
Liberia 3
Libya 290
Liechtenstein 750
Lithuania 560
Luxembourg 739
Madagascar 26
Malawi 8
Malaysia 361
Maldives 28
Mali 14
Malta 693
Mauritania 5
Mauritius 175
Mexico 275
Micronesia (country) 37
Moldova 156
Monaco 899
Mongolia 72
Montenegro 309
Morocco 70
Mozambique 12
Namibia 107
Nauru 159
Nepal 5
Netherlands 528
New Zealand 712
Nicaragua 57
Niger 7
Nigeria 31
North Korea 11
North Macedonia 155
Norway 584
Oman 215
Pakistan 18
Palestine 42
Panama 132
Papua New Guinea 13
Paraguay 54
Peru 73
Philippines 30
Poland 537
Portugal 548
Puerto Rico 635
Qatar 532
Romania 235
Russia 293
Rwanda 5
Saint Kitts and Nevis 223
Saint Lucia 166
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 204
Samoa 77
San Marino 1
Saudi Arabia 336
Senegal 22
Serbia 238
Seychelles 176
Sierra Leone 6
Singapore 149
Slovakia 364
Slovenia 567
Solomon Islands 3
Somalia 3
South Africa 165
South Korea 376
Spain 593
Sri Lanka 76
Sudan 27
Suriname 291
Sweden 520
Switzerland 566
Syria 73
Taiwan 324
Tajikistan 38
Tanzania 7
Thailand 206
Togo 2
Tonga 174
Trinidad and Tobago 353
Tunisia 125
Turkey 144
Turkmenistan 106
Uganda 8
Ukraine 173
United Arab Emirates 313
United Kingdom 519
United States 797
Uruguay 200
Uzbekistan 37
Vanuatu 54
Venezuela 147
Vietnam 23
Yemen 35
Zambia 21
Zimbabwe 114

By Demographics

Income Level

The people most likely to own cars in the U.S. are those who make between $50,000 to $74,999 a year.56

Income Percentage of all U.S. car owners in 2021 Percentage of U.S. population in 2021 Difference
Under $49,999 16% 36% -56%
$50,000-$74,999 34% 16% 108%
$75,000-$99,999 21% 12% 81%
$100,000-$149,999 20% 16% 25%
Unknown or not matched 9% n/a n/a

Age

People aged 45 and older are most likely to own cars. Age and car ownership are directly proportional: The older you are, the more likely you are to own a car and the more cars you own.

Age group Percent of car owners in the U.S. in 2021 Percentage of U.S. population in 2021
24 and younger 0.02% 16%
25-29 1% 8%
30-34 3% 9%
35-39 5% 8%
40-44 7% 8%
45-49 8% 7%
50-54 11% 8%
55-59 12% 8%
60-64 13% 8%
65-69 12% 7%
70-74 10% 6%
75-79 7% 4%
80-84 5% 2%
85 and older 6% 2%

Race

Black people are 10 percent less likely to live in households with vehicles and have access to a vehicle compared to the general population. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 94 percent of white households have vehicles. The average percentage of households with vehicles across all races is 91 percent.7

Percentage of households with a vehicle in the United States as of 2019

Car Type

Crossovers have the largest segment of the U.S. vehicle market share. They make up 45 percent of vehicles total.

United States market share as of June 2022

Electric

As of 2022, only 5 percent of vehicles on the road are all-electric vehicles. Seven percent are hybrid, while 88 percent are gas-powered.

Luxury

Only 5 percent of cars on the market are in the luxury class, which includes brands such as Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus, and Jaguar, according to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association.8

The Cost of Car Ownership by Year

In 1960, Americans spent a total of $17 million on new and used cars. By 2020, that number ballooned to over $460 million, a difference of 2,596 percent. Year over year, U.S. expenditures on new and used cars increased by 16 percent on average, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

Total expenditure spent on cars by year

Traffic Fatalities by Car Type

The type of car accounting for the highest death rate is a four-door mini car, with traffic fatality rates 221 percent higher than the average across all car types. In contrast, a four-wheel-drive luxury SUV has the lowest traffic fatality rates — 85 percent lower than average. This data is based on car models from 2015 to 2018.10

Car type Size Total number of deaths per million registration years
4-door car Mini 108
2-door car Large 67
Station wagons Mini 65
4-door car Small 62
4-door car Large 52
Sports car Midsize 51
Cars n/a 48
Sports car Large 48
2-door car Small 45
2-door car Midsize 44
2-wheel drive luxury SUV Small 44
4-door car Midsize 43
2-wheel drive SUV Small 42
2-door car Mini 41
2-wheel drive pickup Large 38
Overall n/a 36
2-wheel drive SUV Midsize 34
2-wheel drive pickup Small 31
2-wheel drive SUV Very large 30
Pickups n/a 29
2-wheel drive pickup Very large 28
4-wheel drive pickup Very large 27
2-wheel drive SUV Large 26
2-wheel drive luxury SUV Large 26
4-wheel drive pickup Large 26
Station wagons Midsize 25
SUVs n/a 25
4-wheel drive luxury SUV Small 25
4-wheel drive SUV Small 24
4-wheel drive pickup Small 24
Luxury car Midsize 22
Station wagons Small 22
Minivans n/a 22
4-wheel drive SUV Large 22
4-wheel drive SUV Midsize 21
Luxury car Very large 20
Luxury car Large 19
4-wheel drive luxury SUV Very large 19
2-wheel drive luxury SUV Midsize 11
4-wheel drive luxury SUV Midsize 9
4-wheel drive SUV Very large 7
4-wheel drive luxury SUV Large 5

The Future of Car Ownership

Although car ownership has been on the rise for decades, with an average year-over-year increase in vehicle registrations in the U.S. of 1 percent, many factors make the future of car ownership uncertain.

For example, rideshare services, the rise of work-from-home arrangements, increased availability of public transportation, and the promise of self-driving cars may affect personal car ownership in the future. Not to mention the effects of rising fuel prices, high costs of living, economic woes, and supply chain shortages.

According to Automotive World, a new trend may be Mobility as a Service (Maas). Instead of owning cars outright, people would depend on the following services:

  • Car rental subscriptions like Zipcar
  • Peer-to-peer sharing services like Getaround and Turo
  • On-demand car-sharing
  • Car clubs11

Similarly, the think tank RethinkX believes that by 2030, once the U.S. government has approved autonomous vehicles (AVs), 95 percent of U.S. passenger miles will be traveled using on-demand AVs. They also predict that fleets, not individuals, will own these AVs.

RethinkX calls this new business model Transport as a Service, or TaaS, and believes it will save the average U.S. family $5,600 annually in transportation costs, equal to a 10 percent wage increase. Compared to buying a new car, TaaS will be four to 10 times cheaper per mile, or two to four times cheaper than the cost of buying a used car in 2021.12

Car Ownership and Insurance

Because leased cars have more insurance requirements than owned cars (mandating, for instance, collision and comprehensive coverage and gap insurance), they are sometimes more expensive to insure than owned cars. However, assuming you have the same coverage (new car replacement coverage is similar to gap coverage for owned vehicles, for example), leased vehicles may be no more expensive to insure than owned vehicles. Owned cars will only be cheaper to insure if you get minimum coverage — the bare minimum your state requires in auto insurance.

Conclusion

Although exciting new technologies could affect the future of car ownership, for now, personal vehicles are here to stay, especially in Western and Southern states where public transportation isn’t widely available. With car ownership comes a need for auto insurance. Learn more noteworthy car statistics in our auto insurance research.

Methodology

We compiled this report using information from the following third parties:

  • Automotive World
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Infotur
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Murrieta, California website
  • National Automobile Dealer’s Association
  • National Equity Atlas
  • Nation Master
  • Rethink
  • U.S. Census
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Vanderbilt University

Citations

  1. Popular Household Statistics. Federal Highway Administration. (2022).
    https://nhts.ornl.gov/households

  2. Vehicle Ownership in U.S. Cities Data. Governing the States and Localities. (2019).
    https://my.vanderbilt.edu/greencities/files/2019/10/Vehicle-Ownership-in-U.S-2016.pdf

  3. Public Transportation. Murrieta Southern California. (2022).
    https://www.murrietaca.gov/467/Public-Transportation

  4. Motor vehicles per 1000 people: Countries Compared. NationMaster. (2022).
    https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Transport/Road/Motor-vehicles-per-1000-people

  5. U.S. car owners as of 2021, by income group. Statista. (2022).
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1041177/us-car-owners-by-income-group/

  6. Income in the United States: 2021. United States Census. (2022, Sep 13).
    https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2022/demo/income-poverty/p60-276.html

  7. Car Access. National Equity Atlas. (2019).
    https://nationalequityatlas.org/indicators/Car_access#/

  8. Market Beat. National Automobile Dealers Association. (2022, Jun).
    https://www.nada.org/media/5517/download?inline

  9. Automobile Profile. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (2022).
    https://www.bts.gov/content/automobile-profile

  10. Status Report. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety | Highway Loss Data Institute. (2020, May 28).
    https://www.iihs.org/api/datastoredocument/status-report/pdf/55/2

  11. The future of car ownership will be data driven. Automotive World. (2022, Dec 15).
    https://www.automotiveworld.com/articles/the-future-of-car-ownership-will-be-data-driven/

  12. Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030. RethinkX. (2017, May).
    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/