According to Wards Auto, the number of vehicles in operation worldwide surpassed the 1 billion-unit mark in 2010 for the first time ever, at 1.015 billion compared to 980 million in 2009. The figure reflects the approximate number of cars, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses registered worldwide.
Out of the the 35.6 million vehicles added to world roads this year, nearly half (16.8 million) were registered in China. At 78 million vehicles, China’s population is now ahead of Japan’s (73.9 million). India’s vehicle population went up 9% to 20.8 million units, and Brazil experienced the second largest volume increase after China with 2.5 million additional vehicles. U.S. registrations grew less than 1% last year but the country’s 239.8 million units is still by far the largest vehicle population in the world.
Vehicles in operation in 2010 equated roughly to a ratio of 1:6.75 vehicles to people among a world population of 6.9 billion. In the U.S., the ratio was 1:1.3, the highest vehicle-to-person ratio in the world. Italy was second with 1:1.45. France, Japan, and the U.K. followed, all at 1:1.7. In China, the ratio was 1:17.2 and in India it was 1:56.3.
The world vehicle population 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.