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How many cars are there in the world?

There is an estimated 1.4 billion cars on the road, putting the vehicle saturation at around 18 per cent.

How many cars are there in the world? Short answer? Lots. Lots and lots and lots.

So many, in fact, that if you were to park them all nose-to-tail, the line would stretch from Sydney to London, then back to Sydney, then back to London, then back to Sydney. Or at least, that's what our rudimentary calculations tell us.

So yes, there are lots. Oh, you were hoping for a little more detail? Well then, read on.

How many cars in the world?

The specific numbers are a little hard to obtain, what with all the different bodies responsible for counting them, but the best estimate put the figure at around 1.32 billion cars, trucks and buses in 2016. That was the number settled on by US auto-industry giant WardsAuto, with the caveat that it didn’t include off-road vehicles or heavy machinery. (Source: Wards Intelliegence)

Some industry analysts think the number has already surpassed 1.4 billion in the few years since. And it continues to grow at an astonishing rate. To put that growth into perspective, the world was home to around 670 million vehicles in 1996, and just 342 million vehicles in 1976.

If that staggering rate of growth continues, the total doubling every 20 years, then we can expect to see some 2.8 billion vehicles on the planet in 2036.

I know what you're thinking; just who is driving all these cars? What percentage of people in the world have a car? Well, according to the most recent estimates, the world’s population is a (quickly growing) 7.6 billion, and with an estimated 1.4 billion cars on the road, that puts the vehicle saturation at around 18 per cent. But that’s before you take into account children, the elderly and anyone else who doesn’t have, or doesn’t want, a vehicle.

It’s an uneven spread, or course, with car-per-capita numbers much higher in the west (you might be surprised just how many cars are in the US) than they are in the developing east. But that pendulum will swing the other way in the coming decade, hence the continued boom in our global carpark.

What country has the most cars in the world?

For the longest time, the answer to that question would have been the USA. And as of 2016, the total American carpark stood at around 268 million vehicles, and was growing at a rate of around 17 million vehicles per year. (Source: Statista)

But the times they are a-changing, and China has now overtaken the States, and was home to 300.3 million vehicles as of April 2017. Importantly, China residents are now not only buying more cars per year than America (27.5 million vehicles in 2017 alone), but the per-capita penetration is still much lower. That means that there is still much room to grow, especially given China’s 1.3-billion population. (Source: China's Ministry of Public Scrutiny as reported in the South China Morning Post)

According to one report, if per-capita car ownership in China were to equal that of the USA, the country would be home to one billion vehicles alone. But the most sobering statistic, perhaps, is that of the record 90-million-plus vehicles sold globally in 2017, more than 25 per cent of them were sold in China. (Source: China Daily)

Everyone else are mere minnows by comparison. Australia, for example, is home to a fleet of just 19.2 million registered vehicles (according to ABS data), while the Philippines, for example, was home to just 9.2 million registered vehicles in 2016, according to data analysts CEIC. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics and CEIC)

Which country has the most cars per capita?

On this the data is much clearer. In fact, the World Health Organisation and World Economic Forum published a study on this very topic (total registered vehicles divided by population) at the end of 2015, and the results might surprise you. (Source: World Economic Forum)

Top of the list was Finland, with 1.07 registered vehicles per person (yep, more than one per person), with Andorra a close second with 1.05 vehicles. Rounding out the top five, Italy had 0.84, then the USA wth 0.83 and Malaysia with 0.80.

Luxembourg, Malta, Iceland, Austria and Greece held spots six-through-10, with between 0.73 and 0.75 vehicles per person.

How many electric cars are there in the world?

For this, we turn to the Frost Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook 2018, a study that tracked EV sales across the globe. 

The report found interest in EVs is growing, with the 1.2 million electric vehicles sold in 2017 expected to climb to around 1.6 million in 2018, and around two million in 2019. The growth is partly due to the 165 different models now offered globally, as opposed to the sprinkling on offer only a handful of years ago. (Source: Forst Sullivan)

The report put the total global EV carpark at 3.28 million vehicles, including full-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. (Source: Forbes)

What manufacturer produces the most cars per year?

Volkswagen is the world's biggest manufacturer of cars, with 10.7 million vehicles sold in 2017. But wait, you say. how many cars does Toyota make a year? The Japanese giant actually takes second spot, with around 10.35 million vehicles sold last year. (Source: Self-reported global sales from manufacturers)

They're the biggest fish, and they dwarf most competitors. You might consider Ford a global giant, for example, but the answer to how many cars does Ford make a year? Well, the blue oval shifted around 6.6 million vehicles in 2017. Plenty, yes, but well off the pace of the top two.

Specialist brands recorded but a drop in the vast ocean. Ferrari, for example, shifted 8398 cars, while Lamborghini moved just 3815 vehicles. How many cars does Tesla make a year? In 2017, it reported 101,312 sales, though that was just of Models X and S, with the more pocket-friendly Model 3s adding plenty more in 2018.

How many cars are destroyed each year?

Another short answer? Not enough. Global figures are hard to come by, but it's estimated some 12 million cars are destroyed each year in America, while around eight million cars are scrapped in Europe. In the USA alone, that means five million more cars are sold than destroyed each year.

How many cars are you contributing to the global car park? Let us know in the comments below.

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