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World car population over 1 billion

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Posted: 7 am ET

If you're hoping that a president can deliver $2 gas, as one candidate has already promised, there's something you need to know: There are now more than 1 billion cars, trucks and other vehicles on planet Earth.

From Ward's Auto:

According to Ward's research, which looked at government-reported registrations and historical vehicle-population trends, global registrations jumped from 980 million units in 2009 to 1.015 billion in 2010.

The figures reflect the approximate number of cars, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses registered worldwide, but that does not include off-road, heavy-duty vehicles.

The 3.6 percent rise in vehicle population was the largest percentage increase since 2000, while the 35.6 million year-to-year unit increase was the second-biggest increase in overall volume ever.

The market explosion in China played a major role in overall vehicle population growth in 2010, with registrations jumping 27.5 percent. Total vehicles in operation in the country climbed by more than 16.8 million units, to slightly more than 78 million, accounting for nearly half the year's global increase.

If you're wondering what that means for you, the vast majority of those 980 million new cars and trucks are going to need gas and diesel to get where their drivers want them to go, and gas prices are inevitably going to reflect that demand. Which is to say, $2 per gallon gas is about as likely as a 90 percent approval rating for any occupant of the White House in an economy like this. Sometimes it's easy to forget long-term trends when gas prices temporarily drop, as they have over the last few weeks, but they're not going away.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know this is something I talk about a lot. But it's worth repeating: If you're planning on buying a car or truck that gets poor gas mileage, do it with the knowledge that those 1 billion vehicles aren't going away, and will in fact be joined by millions of others in the developing world over the next few years. Americans who buy gas guzzlers today will likely be spending an increasingly large share of their auto and overall household budgets on gasoline well before their auto loan is paid off.

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