The Number of Cars in the US in 2022/2023: Market Share, Distribution, and Trends – (2023)

How many cars are there in the US?

In 2020, there were 286.9 million cars in the US. While car sales for the past few years aren’t a simple upward line, other factors such as increasing car age and the need for personal mobility means amid the pandemicare making sure that the number of US cars is more or less progressively increasing.

According to the Hedges Company, there were 286.9 million registered cars in the US in 2020. That’s 0.84% more than 2019’s 284.5 million units. The same study also suggests that by the end of 2021, 289.5 million vehicles would be roaming the roads of America (Hedges Company).

The US automotive industry has experienced its fair share of ups and downs. This is due to factors such as the oil and energy crisis, improvement of fuel economy, fluctuation of gas prices, innovative upgrades, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Some factors have a larger impact than others. For instance, the Cash for Clunkers (Investopedia, 2020)was deemed as one of the biggest causes of the big sales gap between 2009 and 2010.

The article provides a peek into the state of the automotive industry in the US through sales, distribution, and market shares.

Number of Cars in the US Table of Contents

  1. Distribution of Cars
  2. Car Sales in the US
  3. Car Sales Progression Rate
  4. Market Shares of US Automotive
  5. Market Shares of Major Automotive Companies Worldwide
  6. Number of Electric and Hybrid Cars on the Road
  7. Trends that Affect the Automotive Sector

Distribution of Cars

A survey by US Dept. of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration released in 2020 revealed that California is by far the state with the most number of registered vehicles in the US (US Department of Transportation, 2020). Coming from the most populous US federal state, this number isn’t surprising. Interestingly, only 598,270 of 31,247,270 California-based vehicles are publicly owned. That leaves 98.09%of these automobiles being either used for private or commercial purposes.

On the other hand, Vermont is on the lowest end of the spectrum when it comes to car population; with a mere 620,428 registered vehicles. However, as with California, Alaska has the same distribution rate of 2% to 98% of publicly owned automobiles to privately/commercially owned ones, respectively (Federal Highway Administration, 2020).

Source: Highway Statistics

Car Sales in the US


For the past 42 years, Ford F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in the US. However, in 2019, it was kicked out of the top ranks and surpassed by Toyota Rav4. It’s also been a good year for Honda CR-V. In general, 2019 proved to be a good year for Japanese car brands.

Light-duty vehicles are known for their improved fuel economy as well as great range of utility. This makes them the go-to automobile for savvy consumers. In fact, the chart prior shows how popular this type of vehicle is, with Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue dominating market sales in the US (, 2020).


2020 was also fruitful for SUVs, both for US-based and Japanese carmakers. Sales for the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, for instance, increased in 2020 compared to 2019—despite the financial challenges brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Car Sales Progression Rate

The automotive sector won’t be considering 2020 as its best year so far as major players in the industry have experienced negative YoY growth. Take passenger car sales, for instance, which had only sold 166,400 units in April 2020, the slowest month for all vehicle types (St. Louis Fed, 2021).

Having fewer selling days due to the COVID-19 lockdowns is definitely a factor contributing to the downturn. Economic and financial elements, influenced by the pandemic or otherwise, also play a role in the decline.

Some experts suggest that finance-wise, shoppers are finding it hard to keep up with the increasing costs and interest rates of vehicles. With that said, however, the fact that sales slowly picked up right after the biggest April 2020 slump is showing hope. Although Jan 2021 numbers are significantly lower than Dec 2020, we might still see them soar the rest of the year (St. Louis Fed, 2021).

Market Shares of US Automotive

In 2016, 17.5 million automobiles were sold in the United States. About 65% of them were produced in the US (American Auto Index, 2018). This made the automotive industry one of the major driving forces in the US economy. In 2020, as per usual, the Detroit Big Three automakers, namely General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are still in the overall ranking of leading car manufacturers in the US. However, Japanese names, including Toyota and Honda are also proving to be a force to reckon with.


As previously mentioned, light-vehicles are the most popular type of automobile among the US consumers. While Ford F-Series is the best-selling car in the US for decades now, in 2019, pickup trucks in general are only second in terms of market share. Crossover types such as Toyota RAV4 have dominated the field for the said year.

Market Shares of Major Automotive Companies Worldwide

The United States, next to China, is the world’s second largest automobile market in terms of new light vehicle registrations. It has around 17.55 million light vehicles registered. The biggest player in the US automotive industry, General Motors, was able to net over $108.32 billion in 2020. About 10% of that revenue came from the international market while the major cut came from North America.

With that said, however, General Motors isn’t the go-to automaker of US consumers when it comes to imported cars. In 2020, Toyota was able to sell 2,112,940 units of light vehicles in the US. Following it was Honda Motor Company at 1,336,787 units and the Hyundai Kia Auto Group at 1,222,314 (GoodCarBadCar, 2021).

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Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Toyota Motor Co: 2,112,940

Toyota Motor Co


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Ford Motor Company: 2,034,600

Ford Motor Company


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
FCA: 1,820,443



Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Honda Motor Company: 1,336,787

Honda Motor Company


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Hyundai Kia Auto Group: 1,222,314

Hyundai Kia Auto Group


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Nissan Motor Co: 1,004,651

Nissan Motor Co


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Subaru Corporation: 611,938

Subaru Corporation


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Volkswagen Group: 567,545

Volkswagen Group


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Daimler: 324,708



Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
BMW Group: 308,344

BMW Group


Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Tesla: 292,902



Sales of Light Vehicles in the US, by Manufacturer
Mazda: 279,076



Source: GoodCarBadCar, 2021

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Number of Electric and Hybrid Cars on the Road

As of 2020, there are over a million EVs (Electric Vehicles) on the US road (Argonne National Laboratory, 2021). In 2019 alone, the sales of electric cars surpassed the 2.1 million mark globally (IEA, 2020). It seems the transition to this type of futuristic vehicle has no signs of stopping. In fact, Edison Electric Institute projected that EV stock will reach 18.7 million by 2030 (Edison Electric Institute, 2018).

Automakers have been developing more EV models to satisfy consumer demands. The most prominent ones include BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) and PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle). There have been a few dozen models and brands circulating the market. However, when it comes to EV sales in the US, Tesla is still the most popular, making up 78% of the entire market share.

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Tesla Model 3: 154,836 units

Tesla Model 3

154,836 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Tesla Model X: 18,500 units

Tesla Model X

18,500 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Chevy Bolt: 16,418 units

Chevy Bolt

16,418 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Tesla Model S: 13,300 units

Tesla Model S

13,300 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Nissan LEAF: 12,365 units

Nissan LEAF

12,365 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Audi e-tron: 5,369 units

Audi e-tron

5,369 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Volkswagen e-Golf: 4,863 units

Volkswagen e-Golf

4,863 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
BMW i3: 4,854 units

BMW i3

4,854 units

US Electric Vehicle Sales from January – December 2019
Others: 14,208 units


14,208 units

Sources: Automakers, CleanTechnica, EV Volumes

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With the expected boom of the Electric Vehicles market, various measures need to be set up. For instance, in order to support the 18.7 million EV estimate in 2030, automakers must install about 9.6 million charge ports at workplaces, homes, and public places. This is a major investment in terms of EV charging infrastructure.

Trends that Affect the Automotive Sector

The available technology at hand is a big factor in the automotive industry’s advancement. It may affect the vehicle design, manufacturing, distribution, and other innovation of the automobile sector. This means that in order to monitor and forecast the changes in the industry, one must keep up with the technology trends that emerge.

This is especially true to modern approaches when it comes to vehicle design. For instance, the wide proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices will help in the development of autonomous vehicles. Moreover, with 28.5 million cars embedded with telematics sold in 2019 (BNEF, 2020), the global connected car market is expected to reach $166 billion by 2025 (Markets and Markets, 2020)—this growth will eventually be fueled by technological advancements in manufacturing.

Robot adoption of a more advanced degree has the potential to heavily streamline the manufacturing process as well. Not only that, but artificial intelligence has been making life easier for both consumers and manufacturers alike. With capabilities such as driver assist, automated guided vehicles, infotainment control and more, it’s no wonder that the automotive AI market exceeded $1 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 35% through 2026 (Global Market Insights, 2019).


  1. Argonne National Laboratory (2021). Light Duty Electric Drive Vehicles Monthly Sales Updates. Retrieved from Argonne National Laboratory
  2. BNEF (2020, April 22). BNEF Executive Factbook. Retrieved from Bloomberg
  3. DuGois, F. (2018). Made in America Auto Index — 2018. Retrieved from American Auto Index
  4. Edison Electric Institute (2018, November 30). EEI Celebrates 1 Million Electric Vehicles on U.S. Roads. Retrieved from Edison Electric Institute
  5. Federal Highway Administration (2020). Highway Statistics. Retrieved from Federal Highway Administration
  6. GoodCarBadCar (2021). Light vehicle sales in the United States between January and December of 2019 and 2020, by manufacturer. Retrieved from Statista
  7. IEA (2020, June). Global EV Outlook 2020: Entering the decade of electric drive?. Retrieved from IEA
  8. Markets and Markets (2020, July). Connected Car Market by Service (OTA Update, Navigation, Cybersecurity, Multimedia Streaming, Social Media, e-Call, Autopilot, Home Integration & Other), Form, End Market (OE, Aftermarket), Network, Transponder, Hardware and Region – Global Forecast to 2025. Retrieved from Markets and Markets
  9. St. Louis Fed (2021). Economic Data Series by Tag. Retrieved from St. Louis Fed
  10. Uradu, L.D. (2020, July 31). Cash for Clunkers. Retrieved from Investopedia
  11. US Department of Transportation (2020). Motor vehicle registrations in the U.S. in 2019, by state. Retrieved from Statista


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Nestor Gilbert is a senior B2B and SaaS analyst and a core contributor at FinancesOnline for over 5 years. With his experience in software development and extensive knowledge of SaaS management, he writes mostly about emerging B2B technologies and their impact on the current business landscape. However, he also provides in-depth reviews on a wide range of software solutions to help businesses find suitable options for them. Through his work, he aims to help companies develop a more tech-forward approach to their operations and overcome their SaaS-related challenges.

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