One Billion Cars Now on World’s Roads


Written by Stephen Lacey, a ThinkProgress blogger

Driven by demand from countries like China, India and Brazil, the global market for automobiles is accelerating faster than ever. According to an analysis from the auto trade journal Ward’s, there are now over one billion cars, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks on roads around the world, up from 980 million at the end of 2009.

In just half a year, the global auto fleet expanded by around 35 million vehicles. That’s the second-biggest increase ever.

The U.S. is still has the biggest population of cars and trucks – one for every 1.3 people in the country. But the American fleet is not growing much, only about 1% a year. The explosion in automobile deployments is coming from China, where registrations grew by 27.5%, bringing the country’s vehicle population to 78 million. That increase was more than half of the total global expansion, according to Ward’s.

The leap in registrations gave China the world’s second-largest vehicle population, pushing it ahead of Japan, with 73.9 million units, for the first time.

India’s vehicle population underwent the second-largest growth rate, up 8.9% to 20.8 million units, compared with 19.1 million in 2009.

Brazil experienced the second largest volume increase after China, with 2.5 million additional vehicle registrations in 2010.

China put 16.8 million vehicles on the road in 2010. Industry analysts were forecasting another 15% jump in sales in 2011, but the market slumped after the government stopped providing subsidies for car buyers in order to temper the market. Even so, China’s vehicle population could surpass America’s in just a few years.

According to the International Transport Forum, the global vehicle fleet could reach 2.5 billion by 2050. No doubt that those cars and trucks will be much more efficient than today’s vehicles, especially with China and America setting tighter fuel standards.  And many of them will be electric-drive vehicles.  But another doubling of the global market — even with an increase in efficiency — means massive increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

Auto industry executives everywhere are giddy with joy; meanwhile, those concerned about climate change wonder if we have the wisdom to take our foot off the fossil-fuel accelerator.

This article was originally published by ThinkProgress.

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Cancer Now #1 Cause of Death in China, Coal Largely to Blame

Photo by Bret Arnett via flickr creative commons


Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Heather Marvin
Heather Marv7 years ago

More bicycle paths that lead to work places!

James H.
James Hager7 years ago

yup..and just think we figured out ethonal over 2000 years ago

Bill K.
Bill K7 years ago

i agree with the comment below about eating a veggie diet and global warming. you produce less greenhouse gases by being a Hummer driving vegan than a Prius driving meat eater. of course i can't imagine any responsible veggie driving a Hummer.

Bill K.
Bill K7 years ago

and sometimes it feels like i'm stuck behind every single one of them.....

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado7 years ago

Maybe a reason not to buy a car.

Cristian Prisacariu
Past Member 7 years ago

That's toooo many!

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

propblem is, to many people live to far from work. and family. right? if we kept the country to sanctuaries and farms, and everyone "lived in the city", and family never break apart. few people will need cars?

do you think this is a jerk statement? how you know how I feel when itis hinted "i might be lazy because I need a car".

not everyone can walk 5 hours one way to get to a job, in all kinds of weather. if they don't have a carpool or transet.

perhaps you can make me a petition to get mass transet. they only pick handcap people up for doctor appointments.

maybe I can be less of a menace *^^*.

if it takes, 25 or 30 min to drive to a super makert. I am sureashell not going to work at one if I had to walk.

Amber S.
Amber S.7 years ago

It is really hard in my neighborhood to get anywhere without a car. It's not the safest nor is anything close without having to spend hours getting to and from the store. The public transportation system keeps getting less and less reliable. I think there needs to be some specific focusing on the reliable transportation within suburbs surrounding cities.

Priscilla S.
Priscilla S7 years ago

It could help the enviorment and ourselves to use a bike, instead of a car, at least one day per week. In my country there's a law call resteriction day; we can't go to some parts of the capital (San José) one day, depending on the number our plate ends. This law would be really effective if people wouldn't use their cars at all for one day, but they won't let the goverment do such a thing.It really is a shame.