Visualizing 1 Billion Cars

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via Wired: Autopia by Damon Lavrinc on 7/13/12


Between 1950 and 1970, the number of vehicles in the world roughly doubled every 10 years. That trend began to shift in the mid-1980s, when the vehicle population reached a staggering 500 million vehicles in 1986. Twenty-four years later, we’ve eclipsed the 10-digit mark, with more than 1 billion vehicles registered worldwide. That’s enough for one vehicle for every 7 people in the world.

Most of the growth is taking place outside the world’s largest auto market — the United States — where vehicle registrations only grew by 0.3 percent between 2009 and 2010. As you’d expect, the countries where a burgeoning middle class is on the rise — China and India — are snatching up inexpensive wheels at a rapid rate, with the former posting an astonishing rise of 27.5 percent and the latter growing vehicle registrations at an impressive 8.9 percent.

China has already surpassed the Japanese market, with 78 million vehicle registrations compared to Japan’s 73 million. But the spread of vehicles-to-people is still heavily weighted in the Rising Sun’s favor, with 1.7 people per vehicle compared to China’s 17.2 people per vehicle. But nothing compared to the U.S.’ 1:1.3 ratio.

Check the graphic above for all the stats, and remember, these figures are for 2010. It’s likely that the world has added another 30,000,000 cars in the last 12 months — not including off-road and heavy-duty vehicles.

Infographic: Michael Cerwonka/Wired

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