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The News

The number of vehicles in operation worldwide surpassed the 1 billion-unit mark in 2010 for the first time ever.

According to Ward’s research, which looked at government-reported registrations and historical vehicle-population trends, global registrations jumped from 980 million units in 2009 to 1.015 billion in 2010.

U.S. registrations grew less than 1% last year, but the country’s 239.8 million units continued to constitute the largest vehicle population in the world.

Vehicles in operation in 2010 equated roughly to a ratio of 1:6.75 vehicles to people among a world population of 6.9 billion, compared with 1:6.63 in 2009. But the distribution was not equal, even among the biggest markets.

In the U.S., the ratio was 1:1.3 among a population of almost 310 million – the highest vehicle-to-person ratio in the world.

The world vehicle population in 2010 passed the 1 billion-unit mark 24 years after reaching 500 million in 1986. Prior to that, the vehicle population doubled roughly every 10 years from 1950 to 1970, when it first reached the 250 million-unit threshold.

Implications

With a billion cars on the road, it’s painfully obvious how so much carbon dioxide- the amount that is poured into the atmosphere everyday is weight-equivalent to 8,000 Gulf oil-spills– has a catastrophic effect on the environment.