Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Transportation Energy Data Book, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.
Since the 1950s, the number of automobiles has considerably increased, especially in developed countries. Motorization involved a significant reduction in the number of people per automobile, from 48.2 in 1950 to 7.3 in 2018. There are consequently more vehicles per capita, which is a good indicator of potential mobility. In 2017, the global registered automobile fleet was estimated to have surpassed 1 billion vehicles for the first time, with annual car production in the range of 70 million vehicles. There are more registered vehicles in the United States than there are licensed drivers. Along with the number of vehicles and their production, the distance traveled per vehicle is also rising. Each passenger vehicle travels around 12,500 miles (20,000 km) annually in the United States, up from about 9,000 miles (14,400 km) in 1980. This growing mobility reflects ongoing spatial changes in terms of the size and density of urban areas. However, as the example of the United States illustrates, a “peak mobility” can be reached as the average mileage per car has not changed, and even dropped, since the 2000s.