Motor vehicle
Overview
 
A motor vehicle or road vehicle is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle
Vehicle
A vehicle is a device that is designed or used to transport people or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats, and aircraft....

 that does not operate on rails, such as train
Train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

s or trolleys
Tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

. The vehicle propulsion
Vehicle propulsion
Vehicle propulsion refers to the act of moving an artificial carrier of people or goods over any distance. The power plant used to drive the vehicles can vary widely. Originally, humans or animals would have provided the propulsion system, later being supplemented by wind power...

 is provided by an engine
Engine
An engine or motor is a machine designed to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. Heat engines, including internal combustion engines and external combustion engines burn a fuel to create heat which is then used to create motion...

 or motor, usually by an internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

, or an electric motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

, or some combination of the two, such as hybrid electric vehicle
Hybrid electric vehicle
A hybrid electric vehicle is a type of hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle which combines a conventional internal combustion engine propulsion system with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional...

s and plug-in hybrids. For legal purposes motor vehicles are often identified within a number of vehicle classes including automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s or cars, bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es, motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s, motorized bicycle
Motorized bicycle
A motorized bicycle, motorbike, cyclemotor, or vélomoteur is a bicycle with an attached motor and transmission used either to power the vehicle unassisted, or to assist with pedaling. Since it always retains both pedals and a discrete connected drive for rider-powered propulsion, the motorized...

s, off highway vehicles, light truck
Light truck
Light truck or light duty truck is a U.S. classification for trucks or truck-based vehicles with a payload capacity of less than 4,000 pounds...

s or light duty trucks, and truck
Truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s or lorries.
Encyclopedia
A motor vehicle or road vehicle is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle
Vehicle
A vehicle is a device that is designed or used to transport people or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats, and aircraft....

 that does not operate on rails, such as train
Train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

s or trolleys
Tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

. The vehicle propulsion
Vehicle propulsion
Vehicle propulsion refers to the act of moving an artificial carrier of people or goods over any distance. The power plant used to drive the vehicles can vary widely. Originally, humans or animals would have provided the propulsion system, later being supplemented by wind power...

 is provided by an engine
Engine
An engine or motor is a machine designed to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. Heat engines, including internal combustion engines and external combustion engines burn a fuel to create heat which is then used to create motion...

 or motor, usually by an internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

, or an electric motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

, or some combination of the two, such as hybrid electric vehicle
Hybrid electric vehicle
A hybrid electric vehicle is a type of hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle which combines a conventional internal combustion engine propulsion system with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional...

s and plug-in hybrids. For legal purposes motor vehicles are often identified within a number of vehicle classes including automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s or cars, bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es, motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s, motorized bicycle
Motorized bicycle
A motorized bicycle, motorbike, cyclemotor, or vélomoteur is a bicycle with an attached motor and transmission used either to power the vehicle unassisted, or to assist with pedaling. Since it always retains both pedals and a discrete connected drive for rider-powered propulsion, the motorized...

s, off highway vehicles, light truck
Light truck
Light truck or light duty truck is a U.S. classification for trucks or truck-based vehicles with a payload capacity of less than 4,000 pounds...

s or light duty trucks, and truck
Truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s or lorries. These classifications vary according to the legal codes of each country. ISO 3833:1977 is the standard for road vehicles types, terms and definitions.

As of 2010 there were more than one billion motor vehicles in use in the world excluding off-road vehicles and heavy construction equipment. Global vehicle ownership per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

 in 2010 was 148 vehicles in operation per 1000 people. The United States has the largest fleet of motor vehicles in the world, with 239.8 million by 2010. Vehicle ownership per capita in the U.S. is also the highest in the world with 769 vehicles in operation per 1000 people. The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 has the second largest fleet in the world, with slightly more than 78 million vehicles and since 2009 became the world's largest new car market.

Ownership trends

The U.S. publisher Ward's
Ward's
Ward's is an organization that has covered the automotive industry for over 80 years. They are responsible for several publications including, Ward's AutoWorld, and Ward's Dealer Business.Ward's also publish the annual list of Ward's 10 Best Engines....

, estimate that as of 2010 there were 1.015 billion motor vehicles in use in the world. This figure represents the number of cars; light, medium and heavy duty trucks; and buses, but does not include off-road vehicles or heavy construction equipment. They state that the world vehicle population passed the 500 million-unit mark in 1986, and 250 million motor vehicles in 1970. Between 1970 and 1950, the vehicle population doubled roughly every 10 years. Two U.S. researchers estimate that the world's fleet will reach 2 billion motor vehicles by 2020, with cars representing at leas 50% of all vehicles. China’s and India’s automobile fleets are expected to grow at an annual rate of around 7 or 8%, while the slowest growth is expected in the United States, with less than 1% a year, and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, with 1 to 2%.

Global vehicle ownership in 2010 was 148 vehicles in operation per 1000 inhabitants, a ratio of 1:6.75 vehicles to people, slightly down from 150 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in 2009, a rate of 1:6.63 vehicles to people. In developing countries vehicle ownership rates in cities rarely exceed 200 cars per 1,000 population.

The following table summarizes the evolution of vehicle registrations in the world from 1960 to 2009:
Historical trend of worldwide vehicle registrations
1960-2009 (thousands)
Type of vehicle 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2009
Car registrations(1) 98,305 193,479 320,390 444,900 548,558 617,914 681,154
Truck and bus registrations 28,583 52,899 90,592 138,082 203,272 245,798 284,101
World total 126,888 246,378 410,982 582,982 751,830 863,712 965,255
Note (1) Cars registrations do not include U.S. light trucks (SUVs, minivan and pickups) that are used for personal travel. These vehicles are accounted among trucks.


European Union

The 27 European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (EU-27) member countries had a fleet of over 256 million in 2008, and passenger cars accounted for 87% of the union's fleet. The five largest markets, Germany (17.7%), Italy (15.4%), France (13.3%), the UK (12.5%), and Spain (9.5%), accounted for 68% of the region's total registered fleet in 2008. The EU-27 member countries had in 2009 an estimated ownership rate of 473 passenger cars per 1000 people.

According to Ward's
Ward's
Ward's is an organization that has covered the automotive industry for over 80 years. They are responsible for several publications including, Ward's AutoWorld, and Ward's Dealer Business.Ward's also publish the annual list of Ward's 10 Best Engines....

, Italy had the second highest (after the U.S.) vehicle ownership per capita in 2010, with 690 vehicles per 1000 people. Germany had a rate of motorization of 534 vehicles per 1000 people and the UK of 525 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants, both in 2008. France had a rate of 575 vehicles per 1000 people and Spain 608 vehicles per 1000 people in 2007. Italy also leds in alternative fuel vehicles, with a fleet of 730,000 natural gas vehicles through December 2010, the largest NGV fleet in Europe. Sweden, with 225,000 flexible-fuel vehicles, has the largest flexifuel fleet in Europe by mid 2011.

United States

Historical evolution of
vehicle ownership rates in the U.S.
(Selected years 1900–2009)
Year Veh. per
1000 people
Year Veh. per
1000 people
Year Veh. per
1000 people
1900 0.11 1940 245.63 1980 710.71
1905 0.94 1945 221.80 1990 773.40
1910 5.07 1950 323.71 2000 800.30
1920 86.78 1960 410.37 2007 843.57
1930 217.34 1970 545.35 2009 828.04

According to Ward's
Ward's
Ward's is an organization that has covered the automotive industry for over 80 years. They are responsible for several publications including, Ward's AutoWorld, and Ward's Dealer Business.Ward's also publish the annual list of Ward's 10 Best Engines....

, the U.S. has the largest fleet of motor vehicles in the world, with 239.8 million by 2010, and vehicle ownership per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

 in the U.S. is also the highest in the world with 769 vehicles in operation per 1000 inhabitants, or a ratio of 1:1.3 vehicles to people. The U.S. Department of Energy reports a higher motorization rate of 828 vehicles per 1000 people and a total fleet of 245,441 vehicles by 2009. According to USDoE, the rate of motorization peaked in 2007 at 842.6 vehicles per 1000 people. In terms of licensed drivers
Driver's license
A driver's license/licence , or driving licence is an official document which states that a person may operate a motorized vehicle, such as a motorcycle, car, truck or a bus, on a public roadway. Most U.S...

, as of 2009 the country had 1.0 vehicle for every licensed driver, and 1.87 vehicles per household.

The fleet of alternative fuel vehicle
Alternative fuel vehicle
An alternative fuel vehicle is a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than "traditional" petroleum fuels ; and also refers to any technology of powering an engine that does not involve solely petroleum...

s in the United States includes almost 10 million E85
E85
E85 is an abbreviation for an ethanol fuel blend of up to 85% denatured ethanol fuel and gasoline or other hydrocarbon by volume. E85 is commonly used by flex-fuel vehicles in the US, Canada, and Europe. Some of the benefits of E85 over conventional gasoline powered vehicles include the potential...

 flexible-fuel vehicle
Flexible-fuel vehicle
A flexible-fuel vehicle or dual-fuel vehicle is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel, and both fuels are stored in the same common tank...

s, the world's second largest after Brazil, but actual use of ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel is ethanol , the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline. World ethanol production for transport fuel tripled between 2000 and 2007 from 17 billion to more than 52 billion litres...

 is significantly limited due to the lack of E85
E85
E85 is an abbreviation for an ethanol fuel blend of up to 85% denatured ethanol fuel and gasoline or other hydrocarbon by volume. E85 is commonly used by flex-fuel vehicles in the US, Canada, and Europe. Some of the benefits of E85 over conventional gasoline powered vehicles include the potential...

 refueling infrastructure; The fleet of hybrid electric vehicles in the United States
Hybrid electric vehicles in the United States
The fleet of hybrid electric vehicles in the United States is the largest in the world, and since their inception in 1999, more than 2 million hybrid electric automobiles and SUVs have been sold through May 2011. The top selling hybrid car in the U.S. is the Toyota Prius, which reached 1 million...

 is the largest in the world, with more than 2.0 million units by mid 2011. The country's fleet also includes 112,000 natural gas vehicle
Natural gas vehicle
thumb|right|200px|2009 [[Honda Civic GX]] hooked up to Phill refueling system.A natural gas vehicle or NGV is an alternative fuel vehicle that uses compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas as a clean alternative to other fossil fuels...

s through December 2010, mainly transit buses and delivery fleets. Despite is relative small size, natural gas use accounted for about 52% of all alternative fuels consumed by alternative transportation fuel vehicles in the U.S. in 2009.

China

The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 has the second largest fleet in the world, with slightly more than 78 million vehicles, overtaking Japan in 2010. About 13.6 million vehicles were sold in 2009, and motor vehicle registrations in 2010 increased to more than 16.8 million units, representing nearly half the world’s fleet increase in 2010.

The number of cars and motorcycles in China increased 20 times between 2000 and 2010. This explosive growth has allowed China to become the world's largest new car market, overtaking the U.S. in 2009. Nevertheless, ownership per capita is 58 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants, or a ratio of 1:17.2 vehicles to people, well below the rate of motorization of developed countries.

Japan

Japan had 73.9 million vehicles by 2010, and had the world's second largest motor vehicle fleet until 2009. With more than 1.1 million hybrid electric vehicles, Japan has the second largest hybrid fleet in the world after the US.

Brazil

The Brazilian motor vehicle fleet reached 64.8 million vehicles in 2010, up from 29.5 million units in 2000, representing a 119% growth in ten years, and reaching a motorization rate of 294 vehicles per 1000 people. In 2010 Brazil experienced the second largest fleet increase in the world after China, with 2.5 million vehicle registrations.

Brazil has the largest alternative fuel vehicle
Alternative fuel vehicle
An alternative fuel vehicle is a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than "traditional" petroleum fuels ; and also refers to any technology of powering an engine that does not involve solely petroleum...

 fleet in the world with more than 18 million motor vehicles by June 2011, with 14.3 million flexible-fuel vehicle
Flexible-fuel vehicle
A flexible-fuel vehicle or dual-fuel vehicle is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel, and both fuels are stored in the same common tank...

s, including more than 1 million flex-fuel motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s; between 2.4 to 3.0 million neat ethanol vehicles still in use, out of 5.7 million ethanol only light-vehicles produced since 1979; and as of December 2010, a total of 1.66 million natural gas vehicle
Natural gas vehicle
thumb|right|200px|2009 [[Honda Civic GX]] hooked up to Phill refueling system.A natural gas vehicle or NGV is an alternative fuel vehicle that uses compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas as a clean alternative to other fossil fuels...

s. In addition, all the Brazilian gasoline-powered fleet is designed to operate with high ethanol blends, up to 25% ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel is ethanol , the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline. World ethanol production for transport fuel tripled between 2000 and 2007 from 17 billion to more than 52 billion litres...

 (E25).

India

India’s vehicle fleet had the second-largest growth rate after China in 2010, with 8.9%. The fleet went from 19.1 million in 2009 to 20.8 million units in 2010. India has a fleet of 1,080,000 natural gas vehicles through December 2010.

Australia

As of January 2011, the Australian motor vehicle fleet had 16.4 million registered vehicles, with an ownership rate of 730 motor vehicles per 1000 people, up from 696 vehicles per 1000 residents in 2006. The motor vehicle fleet grew 14.5% since 2006, for an annual rate of 2.7% during this five-year period.

Comparison by regions

The following table compares vehicle ownership rates by region with the U.S., the country with the highest motorization rate in the world, and how it has evolved from 1999 to 2009.
Comparison of motorization rates by region
1999 and 2009
(vehicles per 1000 people)
Country/Region 1999 2009
Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

20.9 24.9
Asia, Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

39.1 157.7
Asia, Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

66.2 101.2
Canada 560.0 620.9
Central
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

133.6 169.7
Europe, East
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

370.0 363.9
Europe, West
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

528.8 583.3
Pacific
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

513.9 560.9
United States 790.07 828.04

See also

  • Alternative fuel vehicle
    Alternative fuel vehicle
    An alternative fuel vehicle is a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than "traditional" petroleum fuels ; and also refers to any technology of powering an engine that does not involve solely petroleum...

  • Effects of the automobile on societies
    Effects of the automobile on societies
    Over the course of the 20th century, the automobile rapidly developed from an expensive toy for the rich into the de facto standard for passenger transport in most developed countries. In developing countries, the effects of the automobile have lagged, but are emulating the impacts of developed...

  • Environmentally friendly vehicle
  • Future car technologies
  • History of the automobile
    History of the automobile
    The history of the automobile begins as early as 1769, with the creation of steam engined automobiles capable of human transport. In 1806, the first cars powered by an internal combustion engine running on fuel gas appeared, which led to the introduction in 1885 of the ubiquitous modern gasoline-...

  • List of countries by vehicles per capita
  • List of countries by traffic-related death rate
  • Motor vehicle emissions
    Motor vehicle emissions
    Motor vehicle emissions are composed of the by-products that comes out of the exhaust systems or other emissions such as gasoline evaporation...

  • Peak car use
    Peak car
    Peak car or peak car use or peak travel is the theory that car usage rates, or overall travel rates, are dropping in at least eight major developed countries including the UK, Australia, America and Japan. Similar to peak oil, peak car theory holds that travel usage per capita reaches a peak and...

  • Road traffic safety
  • Sustainable transport
    Sustainable transport
    Sustainable transport refers to any means of transport with low impact on the environment, and includes walking and cycling, transit oriented development, green vehicles, CarSharing, and building or protecting urban transport systems that are fuel-efficient, space-saving and promote healthy...

  • Traffic congestion
    Traffic congestion
    Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

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