Zero-Car Families on the Rise, Study Says


  • 2014 Toyota Corolla Picture

    2014 Toyota Corolla Picture

    Despite the fact that automakers are producing the most appealing small cars ever, the number of families opting out of car ownership altogether is growing, a new study says. | October 11, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • The number of American households that do not own an automobile has increased in the United States for the first time in 50 years, according to a new study.
  • An aging population, challenging economic times, improved communication technology and increased availability of other travel options are contributing to this trend.
  • The share of American homes without a car rose to 9.3 percent in 2011.

WASHINGTON — The number of "zero-car families" or American households that do not own an automobile has increased in the United States for the first time in 50 years, the recent Commuting in America 2013 study reveals.

Since 1960, the number of American homes without a car had been steadily dropping. It reached an all-time low of 8.7 percent in 2007, but by 2011, the latest year for which data is available, the share had risen to 9.3 percent, according to study authors at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

"An aging population, challenging economic times and increased availability of other travel options may be contributing to the reversal of this trend," the report explains.

The uptick in telecommuting and communication through technology has further fueled the trend, the report says.

The study piggybacks on statistics that portend even more challenges for car companies.

In February, the Federal Highway Administration showed the number of vehicle miles traveled peaked in the U.S. in 2004, and has declined for eight years.

Furthermore, teens show a waning interest in getting their driver's licenses. Edmunds reported in August that only 54 percent are licensed before their 18th birthday.

"The multi-decade trend of declining zero-vehicle households appears to have played itself out," the Commuting in America report said.

Edmunds says: Are you ready to ditch your car?

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