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The most recent U.S. Census survey found that 92 percent of American households owned at least one vehicle. What this means for most Americans is that the cost of car insurance is still a necessary expense since it is required in nearly every state. Bankrate conducted a deep dive into the latest available data to give more background on the state of car ownership in 2023.
Car ownership data and statistics
- The number of households with no access to a vehicle decreased by 0.5 percent from 2020 to 2021. (U.S. Census)
- There are 275,913,237 personal and commercial vehicles registered to drivers in the United States, according to the most recent data available. (Federal Highway Administration – FHWA)
- California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania have the most vehicle registrations, due to their size and population. (FHWA)
- Rhode Island, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont and Washington D.C. have the least amount of vehicle registrations. (FHWA)
- In the most recent census survey, only 8 percent of American households did not own a car. (U.S. Census)
- The majority of Americans own at least one car, with 37.1 percent owning two vehicles and 21.9 percent owning three or more vehicles. (U.S. Census)
- The average American drove 13,476 miles per year in 2022. (FHWA)
- Male drivers tended to drive more than female drivers, with an average of 16,550 miles per year driven by male drivers and 10,142 miles per year driven by female drivers. (FHWA)
- Young drivers aged 16 to 19 and senior drivers over 65 drove a similar annual mileage of around 7,600 miles. (FHWA)
- Compared to June 2021, travel by car on roads and streets decreased by 1.7 percent, down 4.8 billion vehicle miles in June 2022. (FHWA)
- The greatest decrease in miles traveled was in the western states, which was down 3.0 percent or 62.5 billion miles in June 2022 compared to June 2021. (FHWA)
How many cars are in the US?
Based on the most recent data, there are a total of 275,913,237 vehicles registered in the U.S., including 105,135,300 automobiles. More trucks are owned in the U.S. than any other vehicle type, with cars coming second before motorcycles and buses.
U.S. Private and Commercial Ownership By Vehicle Type (FHWA)
While there are less than 4.1 million publicly owned vehicles, there are more than 272.4 million privately owned vehicles. Together, public and private vehicles comprise the nearly 276 million vehicles owned in the U.S.
U.S. Vehicle Ownership by Type (FHWA)
|Private and commercial||Publicly owned vehicles||Total motor vehicles|
Car ownership statistics by city
Vehicle ownership varies significantly based on where you live in the U.S. The information below is gathered from the U.S. Census Data American Community Survey from 2021. Car ownership is higher in areas outside of U.S. metropolitan areas, likely due to urban sprawl and the necessity of a car for daily life.
10 U.S. Metro Areas with the Highest Percentage of Vehicle Ownership
|Rank||City||Percentage of households that own vehicles|
|4||Twin Falls, ID||96.7%|
|5||St. George, UT||96.5%|
|6||Boise City, ID||96.4%|
|9||Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH||96.4%|
|10||Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC||96.3%|
Some of America’s biggest metropolitan areas have the lowest vehicle ownership in the U.S., which is most likely primarily due to ready access to public transportation and the high cost of parking your car in these cities. New York, Newark and Jersey City metro areas have the lowest percentage of households with a vehicle, with Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston metro areas coming in second, third and fourth places.
10 U.S. Metro Areas with the Lowest Percentage of Vehicle Ownership
|Rank||City||Percentage of households that own vehicles|
|1||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||56.5%|
|3||San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metro Division; San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area||80.1%|
|4||Boston, MA Metro Division; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area||82.5%|
|5||Chicago-Naperville-Evanston, IL Metro Division; Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area||86.1%|
|6||Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ Metro Area||87%|
|7||Ithaca, NY Metro Area||87.4%|
|8||Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI Metro Division; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area||87.8%|
|9||Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area||88.1%|
|10||Binghamton, NY Metro Area||88.4%|
Car ownership statistics by state
The rate of car ownership varies significantly between states. The Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Highway Policy Information offers the latest highway statistics based on the most recent data from 2020.
Several of the biggest and most populated states in the U.S. also have the most vehicle registrations, such as California, Texas and Florida. Accordingly, some of the smallest states in the country also have the lowest rate of vehicle ownership, like Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont.
State Private and Commercial Public All Private and Commercial Motor Vehicles* Total for All Private and Publicly Owned Vehicles* Alabama 1,993,089 42,287 2,035,376 5,320,340 Alaska 167,313 3,831 171,144 792,826 Arizona 2,391,632 18,386 2,410,018 6,053,781 Arkansas 860,646 11,791 872,437 2,913,369 California 13,957,692 243,708 14,201,400 30,398,249 Colorado 1,623,494 15,534 1,639,028 5,350,708 Connecticut 1,210,262 909 1,211,171 2,867,554 Delaware 414,460 1,455 415,915 1,006,135 Dist. of Col. 191,873 18,424 210,297 356,537 Florida 7,736,727 104,826 7,841,553 18,464,506 Georgia 3,444,115 51,306 3,495,421 8,829,596 Hawaii 468,176 6,803 474,979 1,244,935 Idaho 586,008 2,354 588,362 1,917,677 Illinois 4,126,473 35,182 4,161,655 10,587,725 Indiana 2,121,269 2,479 2,123,748 6,199,901 Iowa 1,153,267 10,484 1,163,751 3,787,224 Kansas 885,177 3,906 889,083 2,603,543 Kentucky 1,613,475 31,022 1,644,497 4,459,685 Louisiana 1,288,404 27,287 1,315,691 3,861,204 Maine 352,449 3,630 356,079 1,121,106 Maryland 1,795,964 27,589 1,823,553 4,211,377 Massachusetts (2) 1,999,889 3,484 2,003,373 5,036,686 Michigan 2,671,737 19,967 2,691,70 4 8,453,239 Minnesota 1,827,137 14,553 1,841,690 5,690,749 Mississippi 786,202 2,223 788,425 2,058,975 Missouri 1,975,005 16,371 1,991,376 5,587,022 Montana 458,637 444 459,081 1,952,553 Nebraska 610,897 14,010 624,907 1,935,357 Nevada 1,020,129 7,374 1,027,503 2,549,357 New Hampshire 458,256 2,569 460,825 1,357,535 New Jersey 2,518,878 22,247 2,541,125 6,006,247 New Mexico 617,536 6,419 623,955 1,783,151 New York 4,214,023 18,725 4,232,748 11,324,755 North Carolina 3,352,960 45,510 3,398,470 8,739,280 North Dakota 211,955 3,699 215,654 899,083 Ohio 4,208,938 38,905 4,247,843 10,592,317 Oklahoma 1,218,261 5,587 1,223,848 3,730,247 Oregon 1,416,471 24,377 1,440,848 4,095,442 Pennsylvania 3,999,144 44,571 4,043,715 10,690,187 Rhode Island 374,939 6,828 381,767 866,625 South Carolina 1,692,051 75,297 1,767,348 4,561,299 South Dakota 319,820 5,181 325,001 1,294,282 Tennessee 2,069,406 46,226 2,115,632 5,855,373 Texas 8,000,313 87,745 8,088,058 22,419,490 Utah 891,867 10,856 902,723 2,479,604 Vermont 189,922 3,485 193,407 607,890 Virginia 3,014,609 42,645 3,057,254 7,606,452 Washington 2,735,895 64,475 2,800,370 7,257,401 West Virginia 497,785 10,878 508,663 1,657,362 Wisconsin 1,873,334 28,163 1,901,497 5,616,271 Wyoming 188,354 2,978 191,332 861,028 Total 103,796,315 1,338,985 105,135,300 275,913,237
*Data includes automobiles, buses, trucks, and motorcycles. As of 06/2022.
Cost of car ownership
Amid high inflation and supply chain bottlenecks, costs of parts and labor are continuing to rise. Insurance companies factor in these costs, so policyholders may see rising car insurance premiums. The average cost of full coverage car insurance per year is $2,014 — up from $1,771 in 2022, and the average person spends 2.93 percent of their income on this necessary expense.
|Expense||Car insurance||Car maintenance||Commuting||Annual total|
|Average cost per year||$2,014 for full coverage||$9,666||$8,466||$20,146|
Learn more: Comparing car insurance rates
What percentage of Americans own a car?
Overall, vehicle ownership is on the rise in an analysis of the five-year period between 2017 and 2021. The number of households with two vehicles has decreased over time. Meanwhile, there has been a steady increase in vehicles of three or more per household. There is a strong indication that because American households are growing in size, the number of vehicles is also increasing to accommodate them. The data also indicates a rise in steady income, allowing Americans to afford both the car payment on three or more vehicles in addition to the costs of maintenance and car insurance.
However, for those Americans without a car, it can present several challenges. Those who do not live close to city transit lines can face serious challenges in getting to school, work and appointments. Those families with children can be challenged with even greater demands, given children’s busy schedules.
U.S. Residential Vehicle Accessibility
|No vehicles available||8.0%||8.5%||8.6%||8.7%||8.8%|
|1 vehicle available||32.9%||32.5%||32.7%||33.0%||33.2%|
|2 vehicles available||37.1%||37.1%||37.2%||37.3%||37.4%|
|3+ vehicles available||21.9%||22.0%||21.4%||21.0%||20.6%|
Car ownership statistics by year
On an annual basis, the number of total registered vehicles in the U.S. is steadily increasing year-over-year. There was consistent growth over six years ranging from 2014 to 2019. In 2020, the number of total registered vehicles declined to 2019, but was still higher than 2018.
Car Ownership Year-over-Year, 2014-2019 (FHWA)
|Year||Total U.S. registered vehicles|
Car ownership outside of the US
Looking to the rest of the world, global car sales reached 66.1 million in 2022, which was a bit lower than the 66.7 million vehicles sold in 2021.
There is only one country that surpasses the U.S. in car sales: China. In 2021, the total car sales for passenger vehicles exceeded 26 million units, which represented 31.4 percent of global sales. Additionally, while international automobile companies used to enjoy strong dominance in the Chinese market, Chinese vehicle manufacturers grew their market share to 44.4 percent domestically in 2021.
The country with the lowest percentage of car owners is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has only one car per 250 people.
Looking forward, the market for electric vehicles is expected to grow in the coming years. By 2025, EVs may account for 7.4 percent for car sales internationally. By 2025, internal combustion vehicles may decline to about 20 percent of sales, with EVs accounting for 80 percent of vehicle sales.