Percentage of Households by Number of Vehicles, 1960-2020

Percentage of Households by Number of Vehicles 1960 2020

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,, Table QT-04, August 2001. 2010-2020 data – U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, Table CP04.

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 8.5% in 2020.
  • Increase in multi-vehicle households. The number of households with two or more cars has increased substantially, from 22% in 1960 to 59% in 2020.

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 be emerging with a stabilization in the distribution of vehicle ownership, underlining a mature market. It can even be expected that the share of households without a vehicle or with more than one vehicle will decline in the coming years. This is linked to the aging of the population, the high cost of vehicle ownership and attitude changes about vehicle ownership. Peak mobility may become a reality.