Latvia's car ownership rate among lowest in Europe

Take note – story published 2 years ago

There are many reasons why Latvia's roads remain relatively uncrowded (once you get away from Rīga). One of them is that there simply aren't that many cars, when compared with elsewhere in Europe. 

Latvia has the second-lowest rate of registered cars in the European Union, according to data published by EU statistics agency Eurostat September 22.

For at least 30 years, Luxembourg has recorded the highest motorisation rate among the EU Member States. In 2019, there were 681 passenger cars per thousand inhabitants in that country.

"This figure may be influenced by cross-border workers (i.e. not inhabitants) using company cars registered in the country," said Eurostat.

The famously motor-mad Italians were in second place, with 663 cars per thousand inhabitants. Next on the list were Cyprus (645 cars), Finland and Poland (both with 642 cars).

In contrast, the lowest motorisation rates were found in Romania (357 cars), Latvia (381 cars) and Hungary (390 cars).

Latvia's cars are also among the oldest in the EU. Of roughly 727,000 cars registered, the majority (411,000) are between 10 and 20 years old. More than 20% of the car stock is more than 20 years old.

Passenger car age, 2019
Passenger car age, 2019

The Member States with the highest shares of  ’old’ passenger cars (20 years or older) were Poland (37.9 %), Estonia (31.5 %), Finland (26.9 %), Lithuania (22.6 %), Romania (22.1 %) and Malta (21.4 %). By contrast, the shares of the ’youngest’ passenger cars (less than 2 years old) were highest in Ireland (28.8 %), Luxembourg (23.7 %), Belgium (22.9 %) and Denmark (22.6 %).

In 2019, the highest number of registered passenger cars was recorded in Germany with almost 48 million cars, followed by Italy (40 million) and France (32 million). 

Between 2015 and 2019, the highest increase in the number of registered passenger cars was recorded in Romania (+34%), followed by Lithuania (+20%), Hungary (+19%), Slovakia and Poland (both +18%).

The only Member State that recorded a decline in the number of registered passenger cars over this period was Bulgaria (-11%).

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