Percentage of Households by Number of Vehicles, 1960-2017

Percentage of Households by Number of Vehicles, 1960-2017

Source: U. S. Department of Transportation, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Journey-to-Work Trends in the United States and its Major Metropolitan Area, 1960–1990, Cambridge, MA, 1994, p. 2-2. 2000 data – U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Fact Finder, factfinder.census.gov, Table QT-04, August 2001. 2010-2014 data – U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, Table CP04, 2016.

There are two important trends in car ownership in the United States which can be extrapolated to other highly motorized societies:

  • Reduction in the number of households without cars. The number of households without cars declined by about half, from 22% in 1960 to 9% in 2017.
  • Increase in multi-vehicle households. The number of households with two or more cars has increased substantially, from 22% in 1960 to 58% in 2017.

An important factor behind these trends is the rising standards of living and the growing participation of women in the labor force, which for a household often requires the ownership of a second vehicle. Still, since 2000 a new trend appears to by emerging with a stabilization in the distribution of vehicle ownership, underlining a mature market. It can even be expected that in the coming years the share of households without a vehicle or with more than one vehicle will decline. This is linked with the aging of the population, the high cost of vehicle ownership and attitude changes about vehicle ownership. Peak mobility may become a reality.