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How Many Cars Are There in the World?

By Adrian Vroom


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There are plenty of great philosophical questions out there that have been asked by some of the greatest minds of all time such as: “To be or not to be”, “What is the meaning of life” and “How many licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop?!”.All these questions are incredibly poignant and diverse and they all require different levels of thinking to really answer them properly. Today however we will be focusing on a much more different type of question, one that many people have asked themselves while taking a hot shower in the morning.

The question we have in store for this article is simple, and that is: How many cars are there in the world? The answer might shock you, or it might not for that matter since it’s all a game of perspectives.

The exact answer you’re looking for is two, thank you for reading and have a great day! All jokes aside, when asking such an intricate question there are many things you need to take into consideration before actually coming up with what you believe to be the right answer.

There is plenty of official data that is updated to this exact moment but even those stats are actually not perfectly clear to say the least. The truth is that there are several other questions that we need to answer before we can get to the final answer in this little conundrum tale that we’ve got going for you.

So, let’s start off by answering the first of many questions regarding this subject, aka:

What is a Car?

Just What is a Car

Going by the official definition of the word, a car is essentially just a vehicle that works based on a motor engine with at least four wheels attached to it. This car can be used to travel to places, it can be used to transport people to certain destinations and of course, it can be used to carry cargo too while you’re at it.

We should also mention that per average, each car has at most eight seats for these passengers to sit in, not more, but it can be less than that as well. Because of this there are many arguments over whether limousines actually do count as cars or not but we’ll talk more about this later on.

For now, we should mention that by going with that definition alone, we can safely say that cars make up around 74% of all motor vehicles that have been constructed and sold in the market as of 2021.

As mentioned previously, limousines don’t really count for this percentage, as they enter the other category which sums up about 26% of all other motor vehicles on the market.

Together with limousines you also have buses, minibuses, big trucks and of course, coaches. All of these are mainly used to carry people around, yes, but unlike with the other category we mentioned above, the vehicles in question here are mostly used for light commercial practices, not for personal use.

Which Country Produced the Most Cars?

SAIC Motor Factory
SAIC Motor Factory

Moving onto our next question, which may seem a bit random but alas it is still quite an important one to answer: Who’s got the most cars on the line?

The short answer is China, the long answer however is that it all depends again on what you see as the most important asset of this conundrum. The fact of the matter is that over 60% of all cars have been constructed and marketed for an Asian and Oceanic demographic, meaning they already took the lead in that aspect.

But that’s where things get tricky. China does produce the most cars in the world, yes, quite alarmingly so too, but they also have some of the fewest cars per people in the world too.

You may be asking yourself how that’s possible, and the answer is simple. Cars are a commodity in China, most people would rather spend their time walking, taking a bicycle route or just taking a public transportation route to get to where they’re heading.

How Many Cars Are There in the World
Kelly Lacy / pexels.com

This is all based around their culture and specifically around the fact that cars can be quite expensive there to begin with. This is how we can explain the fact that although China has made the most vehicles in the world, with over 24 million units produced as of 2020, they only have around 150 vehicles per 1,000 people in total.

That is atrociously small considering the fact that in Japan, the rate is about 700 vehicles per 1,000 people. In case you didn’t realize already, Japan is number two when it comes to how many cars they’ve produced as of 2020, with almost 8 million units sold last year alone.

These numbers don’t lie, so while China is definitely up there and it obviously earned its number one spot when it comes to this niche category, we would still say that there are factors that go in this decision that ought to be taken into consideration when asking this question.

This will become the overarching theme of this article, as more and more questions spring up from every answer that we could ever give you. It’s a never-ending loop that will continue to answer and ask questions the more you want to finally give it a decisive ending.

Which Country Has the Most Cars Per Capita?

Finland Most Cars Per Capita
Mihis Alex / pexels.com

Next up we have an easier question to answer, one that will not require theoretical analysis and psychological breakdowns to fully comprehend the meaning behind it.

Essentially, we can just look up the data that is offered to us by the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum because they actually answered this question up by the end of 2015 in a publicly available study.

As strange as it may sound, it’s not the US that has the number one spot, it’s not China or Japan either, it’s actually Finland.

Finland? Why Finland? The answer is again, pretty simple. According to official statistics, the average hourly wage, or pay per hour if you will, is of 27 euros for every worked hour of the day. Because of this, the population is entitled to waste a lot of money on commodities that can make their lives easier, such as cars.

But, while we are on this subject, cars are not exactly commodities when it comes to Finland to begin with. While we are contradicting ourselves, we should mention that in Finland cars are a lot more expensive than they are around the globe.

The reason for this is the fact that the minimum wage is so massive that their prices are also inflated accordingly. But this is where the beauty of importing cars from across boarders comes into play.

By buying a car from a shop that uses the foreign country’s price customs, Finnish people can easily save up a lot of money and in doing so they can purchase very expensive cars for cheaper prices. This is why there are as many as 1.07 registered cars per person in this country.

Andorra comes in on second place with a 1.05 vehicle per person statistic and so on and so forth. Essentially, the higher the living rate, the more cars you’ll have because you can always import them from across boarders and adhere to their price tags instead of yours.

How Many Electric Cars in the World?

Tesla Cars
Tesla Model S, Model X and Model 3

In order to get to the bottom of this we need to essentially cover what the Frost Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook did when they released their study based on the EV sales around the world.

Their results were pretty much what you’d expect by now, since the world of electric cars has been steadily getting more and more traction in everyday life as we know it.

So, as you can imagine, the EVs total interest over the years has been steadily growing since 2017, when around 1.2 million electric cars were sold in total. As time moved on however, interest increased and so we saw a total of 1.6 million units being sold in 2018, and before long we were past the 2 million mark by 2019.

As the number continues to grow, experts have stated that by 2021 this number will greatly increase as the general population begins to show more and more interest in this niche. 

There has even been a report on the total EV carpark which stood tall at around 3.28 million units, with this also encompassing hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well.

Needless to say, despite the fact that EVs only really came out a couple of years ago they’ve already taken the world by storm and as we move further and further into the future it appears as though we’re steadily getting more and more accustomed with driving electrical cars as opposed to traditional models.

That isn’t to say that the world is completely ditching the classics, no way that that’s happening anytime soon, but what used to be a rather niche category on the market has now reached the homes of even the most traditional of families around the globe.

The world is changing and the more time passes the more people seem to love the idea of switching to the electrical avenue. How high will that number of sales per year get? 3 million? 5 million? All that we can do is speculate, but what we do know for sure is that that number will definitely increase, and whether we like it or not, electric cars are here to stay.

Which Company Builds the Most Cars Per Year?

Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group

We’ll keep this part relatively short; the answer is simply just Volkswagen. They have been about as consistent when it comes to being on the first spot as they get, since they’ve been essentially running the market since 2017.

On the second spot however we have quite the strange pick, as Toyota makes its way to the second spot of this list. While Volkswagen have sold around 10.7 million units in 2017, Toyota actually nearly reached their numbers, pulling in 10.35 million units the same year.

Ford have also been slowly yet surely increasing their numbers in sales, managing a fair 6.6 million units sold as of 2017. I know a lot of you still drive old Ford cars around the town, if you’re considering an upgrade and want to sell your car, you could find out how much its worth at Gettacar.com.

The rest of the car companies are way lower when it comes to their numbers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not thriving.

For example, Tesla have really been increasing their numbers as well, especially thanks to their new models, the Model X and S and of course, Model 3s with its pocket-friendly look and feel.

On the downside though, it appears as though former titans of the industry like Ferrari and Lamborghini have began decreasing in numbers, as their clientele have begun swapping sides and going for other companies when it comes to their specialist brands.

So, while the numbers surely appear to be on the up side, the problem comes with the fact that only around half of the companies are actually thriving with the passage of time. Plenty of companies have been losing their hold over the market shares over the years, but you won’t see that in the general statistics because while they are dragged down, companies such as Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota are pulling it all up.

How Much Pollution Are These Cars Spreading?

How Much Pollution Are These Cars Spreading
Alex Azabache / pexels.com

While we can sit here and laugh all day at how funny it is that so many people believe that electric cars will save the world and whatnot, the health of our planet is not a joke, especially not when we’re the only ones suffering from the punchline.

With over 98% of vehicles still being bowered by diesel or gasoline, it’s pretty clear that the world is not exactly doing great when it comes to this side of things.

We have a total of 2.23 billion metric tons, a whopping 4.92 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide spread into our atmosphere this year alone, and guess what, that’s all simply because of our cars spreading their life fuel so they can end our life fuel.

Needless to say, we could be doing better in this category, and we should be doing better, but as long as we do not fully comprehend the difference between living and suffocating in our own air, we will never actually make that final step forwards.

While on this topic we should also bring up the mood slightly by mentioning just how many of these cars are destroyed every year.

While more on the random side, this essentially bottles down to 12 million units every year in America alone, and 8 million units in Europe for that matter. Whether this is because of actual car crashes, car scrapping or anything else we don’t know, all that we know is that this is, according to official studies, the numbers we are given.

Finally, How Many Cars are In the World right now?!?

How Many Cars are In the World
David McBee / pexels.com

So, while we take into consideration every other factor that we mentioned in this relatively short article so far, only selecting what classifies as a car, how many cars are made and how many are actually bought every year, we can come to the following conclusion: There are around 1.42 billion vehicles out there as of 2021.

While that number is obviously not entirely factual, it is more so just an estimate of what the actual number could very well be, the truth is that it’s somewhere around that number, more or less.

Based on the information we covered in this article, we can also assume that this number will increase over the years, as cars are becoming more and more affordable and the market is becoming more and more approachable to the every day person.


How Many Cars are out there
cottonbro / pexels.com

At the end of the day this is what we can take from this article: The world is a series of binary numbers that make absolutely no sense.

All of these numbers are entirely fictional, as there is no possible way of keeping track of everything there is out there. We live in a world of estimates, a world filled with maybes and perhaps’, but that shouldn’t discourage you from researching.

The fun thing about this is that you could very well say that there are 1.45 billion vehicles out there and you’d be just as entitled to being right as anyone else out there. It’s all a guessing game, and while there are parameters we should stay within when making our assumptions, every answer is about as correct as they get.

So, we thank you for staying in tune with us and we will be leaving you with the following question for now: How many cars do you have in your garage?

About Adrian Vroom

As a child, Adrian was fascinated by anything and everything car related. Years went by and he found himself more and more in love with cars. It wasn't just about their good looks, speed and power, it was about the freedom they represented, the thrills and joy they provided and the ton of options that were available for every type of person out there. Learn more about GCB's Editorial Process.

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