World vehicle population crosses 1 billion


The world vehicle population in 2010 passed the 1 billion-unit mark 24 years after reaching 500 million in 1986. Prior to that, the vehicle population doubled roughly every 10 years from 1950 to 1970, when it first reached the 250 million-unit threshold.

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.

Despite the fact that 2010 was the year when most car manufacturers were recovering from recession, the number of vehicles on the streets passed the 1 billion-unit mark.

An important role was played by China in the major increase of car population of 2010, with registrations jumping 27.5%. Its worth mentioning the fact that total vehicles being 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. Also, India’s vehicle population followed closely by up to 8.9% to 20.8 million units, compared with 19.1 million in 2009. Significant changes happened also in Brazil which witnessed 2.5 million additional vehicle registrations in 2010.

Even though USA had a less significant growth where registrations in US grew less than 1% last year however given the fact they were unnoticeable but still USA remains as the largest vehicle population in the world with 239.8 million units.

The vehicle-to-person ratio in the world equated roughly to a ratio of 1:6.75 vehicles to people among a world population of 6.9 billion, compared with 1:6.63 in 2009.

The ratio was highest in the USA, 1:1.3 among a population of almost 310 million, Italy was second with 1:1.45. France, Japan, and the U.K. followed, all of which fell in the 1:1.7 range.

In China, the ratio was 1:17.2 among the country’s more than 1.3 billion people. India, the world’s second most-populous nation with 1.17 billion people, saw a ratio of 1:56.3.

Baber K. Khan

An auto enthusiast trying to bring car media mainstream.