Has motorization in the US reached its peak?

Jun 20, 2013
Has motorization in the US reached its peak?

(Phys.org) —Fewer light vehicles are on America's roads today than five years ago, thanks possibly to increases in telecommuting and public transportation, says a University of Michigan researcher.

Michael Sivak, a research professor at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, studied recent trends in the numbers of registered cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and vans in the U.S. from 1984 to 2011. He examined both the absolute numbers and rates per person, per licensed driver and per household.

Sivak found that the absolute number of registered vehicles reached a maximum of 236.4 million in 2008, 2.6 million more than in 2011.

"It is likely that this was only a temporary maximum and that the decline after 2008 was primarily driven by the current economic downturn that started that year," Sivak said. "Consequently, with the improving economy and the expected increase in the U.S. population, it is highly likely that from a long-term perspective, the absolute number of vehicles has not yet peaked."

He found, however, that rates of vehicles per person, per licensed driver and per household reached their highest levels most recently in 2006—two years before the economy stalled. The rates that year were 0.79 vehicles per person, 1.16 per licensed driver and 2.05 per household. In 2011, the rates were 0.75, 1.10 and 1.95, respectively.

"It is likely that the declines in these rates prior to the current reflect other societal changes that influence the need for vehicles—such as increases in telecommuting and in the use of public transportation," Sivak said.

Sivak said that changes in the rates from 2008 on, however, likely reflect both the economy and a variety of societal changes.

"Whether the recent maxima in the rates will represent long-term peaks, as well, will be influenced by the extent to which the relevant societal changes turn out to be permanent," he said.

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User comments : 7

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1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2013
... or maybe our politicians have so destroyed our economy that less of us can afford to drive.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2013
I work from home mostly so I have no need to go driving about everyday and all of the stores I need to go to are easily within walking distance or a quick bus ride. There is also several parks nearby to go out and enjoy the day when I want to. Why would I need to get something as expensive as a car?
3 / 5 (8) Jun 20, 2013
JSCroft blames the politicians, but the American people are the ones who elected them.

In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve.

For 40 years Republican have been electing Republican Politicians who have sworn an oath to destroy the U.S. government. Their program is called "Starve the beast"

"We need to manufacture an (economic) crisis in order to assure that there is no alternatives to a smaller government." - Jeb Bush - Imprimus Magazine.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2013
To answer the question posed by the article...

Yes. Motorization in America has peaked.
1 / 5 (2) Jun 20, 2013
So, what... It doesn't matter that politicians are responsible because some of them are Republican? That's stupid. Why should we only horsewhip HALF of the bastards?
1 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2013
... or maybe our politicians have so destroyed our economy that less of us can afford to drive.
Don't blame the politicians. The (ignorance of) mainstream physics regarding cold fusion and magnetic motors did all of it.
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 21, 2013
Obama is not know as the Food Stamp president for nothing. If one is on food stamps, one does not buy vehicles.

VD, have you kissed your Obama statue today?