In what could be a bellwether for the US economy and its struggling car industry, Americans appear to be losing their luster for cars, driving less, obtaining fewer licenses, and using less gasoline.
The below charts from The Atlantic illustrate the situation beautifully, suggesting that the US might have hit “peak cars”.
First, at the height of the housing bubble, there were just over two registered cars on the road per household, whereas as at 2011, there were just under two:
Second, due to the rising population, the total number of vehicles on US roads has started rising again, although families are obviously not buying as many vehicles as the bubble years:
Third, the average number of miles traveled has fallen 9% since the mid-2000s peak:
With total vehicle miles also lower, despite the growing population:
Finally, you would have to go back to the Reagan era to see annual fuel consumption this low on a per-driver basis:
As noted by The Atlantic, we don’t know for sure whether these changes are permanent or as a result of the post-GFC recession. But with the economy and housing market unlikely to return to bubble-like levels of the mid-2000s, we could very well have past peak car use in the US.