U.S. Cities With the Highest and Lowest Vehicle Ownership

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It’s estimated that around 95% of American households own a car, and 85% of Americans commute to work by car. In fact, the United States ranks fifth for car ownership per capita in the world.

  1. San Marino — 1,263 cars per 1,000 people
  2. Monaco — 899 cars per 1,000 people
  3. New Zealand — 860 cars per 1,000 people
  4. Iceland — 824 cars per 1,000 people
  5. United States — 811 cars per 1,000 people

There’s much debate on the future of car ownership. Some theorize that automation will gradually eliminate the need for drivers, electric and hybrid vehicles will conquer the global market, and ride-sharing and renting services (like Uber and Lyft) will become the primary means of vehicle transportation. After all, cars are parked about 95% of the time. However, others disagree that car ownership will become antiquated. Public transportation has room for improvement in the United States, limiting options for commuting to work if you don’t own a car.

Here are some statistics that shed light on public transportation and car ownership in the United States:

  • Forty-five percent of Americans have no access to public transportation.
  • Since 1998, public transportation use has increased by 21%, outpacing the general U.S. population growth rate of 19%.
  • The average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation — 93% of that goes to purchasing, maintaining, and operating cars. This is the largest expenditure after housing!
  • There are 281.3 million cars registered in the United States.
  • Transportation accounted for 29% of United States greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, outweighing all other sectors.

Here are the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest percentages of households that own vehicles:

  1. Murietta, California — 99.3%
  2. League City, Texas — 99%
  3. Surprise, Arizona — 98.7%
  4. West Jordan, Utah — 98.7%
  5. Cary, North Carolina — 98.6%
  6. Pearland, Texas — 98.6%
  7. Highlands Ranch, Colorado — 98.5%
  8. Centennial, Colorado — 98.3%
  9. Gilbert, Arizona — 98.3%
  10. Elk Grove, California — 98.2%

These cities also have high median household incomes, ranging from $114,288 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, to $60,521 in Surprise, Arizona. All together, the median household income of these 10 cities averages out to $86,839.

Here are the top 10 U.S. cities with the lowest percentages of households that own vehicles:

  1. New York, New York — 45.6%
  2. Newark, New Jersey — 59.7%
  3. Washington, District of Columbia — 62.7%
  4. Jersey City, New Jersey — 62.9%
  5. Cambridge, Massachusetts — 63.2%
  6. Boston, Massachusetts — 66.2%
  7. Paterson, New Jersey — 67%
  8. Hartford, Connecticut — 67.4%
  9. San Francisco, California — 70.1%
  10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — 70.5%

Most of these locations are large cities with public transport infrastructure. And Cambridge, Massachusetts, not only has easy access to public transit but is home to Harvard University; many college students do not own vehicles.

Here are the top 10 cities with the most cars per household:

  1. Murrieta, California — 2.36
  2. Jurupa Valley, California — 2.32
  3. Moreno Valley, California — 2.32
  4. West Jordan, Utah — 2.3
  5. Simi Valley, California — 2.29
  6. Corona, California — 2.29
  7. Norwalk, California — 2.27
  8. Pomona, California — 2.27
  9. Fontana, California — 2.27
  10. Santa Ana, California — 2.25

The average median household income for these places is $69,359. California’s gas prices also soared over $4 a gallon in the summer of 2019, with some stations reaching $5. The national average for gas prices is $2.90, to put that staggering number into perspective. Only 5.3% of Californians commute to work by public transit, which is on par with the national average. Unfortunately, public transit ridership in California is declining.

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