How Many Cars Are in the U.S.? Car Ownership Statistics 2022
Car ownership rates are ticking upwards in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 91.5% of U.S. households had at least one vehicle available in 2020, compared to 90.9% in 2015.
The United States consistently ranks near the top in terms of car ownership, and in several states, at least 95% of households have access to a vehicle. There are, however, a few areas with more robust public transportation systems that buck the norm, including Washington, D.C., New York, and New Jersey.
Read on to find out where your state ranked, the total number of vehicles in the country, and more of the latest car ownership statistics.
- The United States had 275,924,442 registered vehicles in 2020.
- The number of registered vehicles in the United States increased by 4.7% from 2015 to 2020.
- Only 8.5% of households in the United States don't have a vehicle.
- Montana has 4.5 registered vehicles per household, the highest average in the country.
- Washington, D.C. and New York have the lowest number of vehicles per household.
- There were 1,019,260 electric vehicles registered in the United States by the end of 2020.
- California accounts for 41.7% of all the electric vehicles in the country.
- Car sales decreased by over 2.5 million in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues.
National car ownerships statistics
There were a total of 275,924,442 registered vehicles in the United States in 2020, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That's a 4.7% increase from 2015, when there were 263,610,219.
It might surprise you to learn that trucks, and not automobiles, were the most popular type of vehicle. Even though car insurance quotes tend to be costlier for trucks, they make up well over half the vehicles in the country.
|Automobiles registered, 2020||Buses registered, 2020||Trucks registered, 2020||Motorcycles registered, 2020||Total registered motor vehicles, 2020|
Most households (91.5%) had at least one vehicle available in 2020. That's 0.6% more than in 2015. Interestingly enough, the biggest change in those five years was an increase in the households with three or more vehicles.
|Number of vehicles||Percentage of households (2020)||Percentage of households (2015)|
|No vehicles available||8.5%||9.1%|
|1 vehicle available||32.5%||33.7%|
|2 vehicles available||37.1%||37.4%|
|3 or more vehicles available||22.0%||19.8%|
Car ownership rates by state
Car ownership rates vary significantly by area. In Wyoming, 96.2% of households have access to at least one vehicle, compared to just 64.6% in Washington, D.C. and 71.0% in New York.
There's also a huge difference in the average number of vehicles per household. Washington, D.C. has an average of 1.2 vehicles per household, while in Montana, there's a whopping 4.5 vehicles per household. Hopefully those multi-car households are bundling coverages so they can get discounts on car insurance.
|State||Percentage of households with at least one vehicle||Average number of vehicles per household|
Vehicle numbers per state generally coincide with population numbers. The most populated states (California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania) also have the most registered vehicles. From 2015 to 2020, 39 states and Washington, D.C. saw their vehicle numbers increase, compared to 11 that saw them decrease.
|State||Vehicles registered (2020)||Vehicles registered (2015)||Percentage change|
Electric vehicle ownership rates by state
There were 1,019,260 registered electric vehicles in the United States by the end of 2020.
California can take most of the credit for that, as it's home to 425,300 electric vehicles, 41.7% of the nationwide total. On the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota recorded the lowest total with just 220 electric vehicles.
|State||Electric vehicles registered (2020)|
Car ownership rates by city
Murrieta, California is the city with the highest car ownership rate in the United States, as 99.3% of its households own vehicles. Here's the full top 10:
|City||Percentage of households that own vehicles|
|League City, Texas||99.0%|
|West Jordan, Utah||98.7%|
|Cary, North Carolina||98.6%|
|Highlands Ranch, Colorado||98.5%|
|Elk Grove, California||98.2%|
New York City has the lowest car ownership rate by far at 45.6%. Cities with low car ownership tend to have more public transportation options and high population densities. This makes a car more of a luxury than a necessity, especially considering the extra costs involved, such as car insurance and parking.
|City||Percentage of households that own vehicles|
|New York, New York||45.6%|
|Newark, New Jersey||59.7%|
|Jersey City, New Jersey||62.9%|
|Paterson, New Jersey||67.0%|
|San Francisco, California||70.1%|
In case you're wondering why Washington, D.C.'s car ownership rate is different here than it was earlier, it's because this data is from TitleMax. The numbers earlier were from the Federal Highway Administration. It's normal to have some variations between data sources.
Car ownership in 2022 and beyond
Although car ownership rates and registered vehicle numbers rose from 2015 to 2020, we'll likely see them slow down and potentially fall when more recent data is available, as car sales have dropped significantly.
From 2015 to 2019, dealers had five straight years with at least 17 million new light-vehicle sales, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. That trend was halted in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic and a semiconductor shortage slowed down vehicle production. New light-vehicle sales were just 14.43 million in 2020 and 14.97 million in 2021.
On a positive note, the electric vehicle market has been booming. In the first quarter of 2022, there were a record 208,411 electric vehicle sales in the United States according to the California Energy Commission. While the industry is still heavily reliant on the state of California and Tesla, it's clear that more consumers are making the shift to electric vehicles.
The average number of vehicles per household was calculated by dividing each state's number of registered vehicles by its number of households.
- National Automobile Dealers Association (2020). "NADA Market Beat: 2019 U.S. New Vehicle Sales Mark 5th Year Over 17 Million Units."
- National Automobile Dealers Association (2021). "NADA Market Beat December 2021."
- TitleMax (2022). "U.S. Cities With the Highest and Lowest Vehicle Ownership."
- U.S. Census Bureau (2022). "2020 American Community Survey."
- U.S. Department of Energy (2022). "Electric Vehicle Registrations by State."
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (2017). "Highway Statistics 2015."
- U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (2022). "Highway Statistics 2020."
- Veloz (2022). "Electric Vehicle Sales in California and the U.S."
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