Here are some questions we get a lot on our analysis and custom reporting of vehicle registration data. Note that we do not provide raw data, we only produce custom reporting that utilizes vehicles in operation/VIO data.
Q: How many cars are registered in the US?
A: There are now about 287 million light-duty vehicles in operation (VIO) in the US in 2021. The average car in the US is just over 12 years old. Below is a table that shows the number of registered vehicles in US, also known as Vehicles in Operation/VIO data, since 2006. This table covers light-duty vehicles.
Q: What’s the definition of a passenger car? What is the “light duty vehicles” meaning? What’s the definition of light duty/medium duty/heavy duty? What is a “light truck?”
A: Vehicles are classified by their Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), also referred to as Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and these classes are identified as either blank (for a passenger car) or a class number from 1 to 8. Note: to be precise, GVW is the total weight of a vehicle and its payload at a specific point in time. GVWR refers to a vehicle’s maximum weight rating determined by the OEM. On this page we’re primarily referring to GVWR.
Here are the definitions of vehicle GVW/GVWR classes in the U.S.:
|GVWR Class||GVWR Category||Description||Examples|
|(blank)||Light-duty vehicle||Passenger cars||Common passenger cars; no SUVs or CUVs|
|1||Light-duty vehicle||Medium pickup trucks, mini vans, SUVs and CUVs under 6,000 lbs. (2,722 kg)||Common “quarter ton” pickups, SUVs and crossover CUVs; GMC Canyon, Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger.|
|2||Light-duty vehicle||Mini vans, full-size pickups, step vans or cargo vans 6,001lbs. to 10,000 lbs. (2,722–4,536 kg)||Common “half ton” pickups including Ram 1500, Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado|
|3||Light-duty vehicle or medium-duty vehicle*||Heavy-duty “3/4 ton” pickups, box trucks, walk-in commercial vans 10,001 lbs. to 14,000 lbs. (4,536–6,350 kg)||Ram 3500, Ford F-250, Ford F-350, GMC Sierra 3500|
|4||Medium-duty vehicle||Large walk-in commercial vans, larger box trucks, city delivery trucks 14,001 lbs. to 16,000 lbs. (6,351–7,257 kg)||Ford E-450 van, Ford F-450, Ram 4500|
|5||Medium-duty vehicle||Largest city delivery trucks, largest walk-in commercial vans with double rear axles, bucket utility “cherry picker” trucks 16,000 lbs. to 19,500 lbs. (7,258–8,845 kg)||Ford F-550, GMC 5500, Ram 5500|
|6||Medium-duty vehicle||School buses, single-axle straight trucks, stake bed trucks, beverage trucks 19,501 lbs. to 26,000 lbs. (8,846–11,793 kg)||Thomas Built Buses, Blue Bird Vision bus|
|7||Heavy-duty vehicle||City transit buses, smaller semi truck cabs, moving vans, garbage trucks 26,001 lbs. to 33,000 lbs. (11,794–14,969 kg)||GMC C7500, Freightliner|
|8||Heavy-duty vehicle||Largest dump trucks, largest semi cabs, semi truck sleeper cabs, cement trucks 33,001 lbs. (14,969 kg) and heavier||Freightliner, International, Mack|
You’ll often see a reference to “cars and light trucks,” which is different than medium and heavy duty trucks.
Cars do not have a GVW rating, the class is simply excluded or blank. Light trucks are GVW 1 through 2 or 3*, which includes SUVs, some CUVs, and all the quarter-ton, half-ton and three-quarter ton pickup trucks that you see every day. Medium duty trucks are GVW 3* or 4 to 6 which includes large commercial delivery trucks, large vans, walk-in trucks like UPS or FedEx vans, up to large beverage trucks and school buses. Heavy duty trucks are GVW 7 and 8 which covers the largest trucks including the largest tow trucks, fire engines, cement trucks and semi trucks.
*See medium-duty vehicle Q&A, below.
Q: Can I use vehicle registration or Vehicles in Operation/VIO data to contact vehicle owners?
A: No. To market directly to vehicle owners you need an automotive mailing list and we can help you with mailing lists. Our registration data reports do not include any personally identifiable information (PII) about the owners of the vehicles or where the vehicles were purchased; we cannot include VINs either. Our registration data comes from actual DMV registrations and because of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, information about the vehicle’s owner cannot be shared.
Our registration data focuses on counts of vehicles within certain geographies. For example, we can create a report for you that breaks down vehicles by year, make and model for the entire US by ZIP code. Our reports are customized; we only include the information you want. Keep reading to learn more about our registration data. If you are looking to contact vehicle owners, we can help you with a mailing list. Just visit our automobile mailing list page.
Q: How are hybrid or electric vehicles classified?
A: VIO data classifies these vehicles as one of three types. Hybrids can be either gasoline/electric hybrids, where the batteries are recharged when the gasoline engine is running, or they can be plug-in hybrids. Gasoline/electric hybrids are abbreviated “HEV” for hybrid electric vehicle. Plug-in hybrids are abbreviated “PHEV” and rely more on battery power than HEVs. Vehicles that are fully electric and rely solely on batteries are abbreviated “BEV” for battery electric vehicle. “Electric vehicles” refers to PHEVs and BEVs combined into one group. There are also mild hybrids known as MHEV.
Q: What kind of VIO data can you provide?
A: Three basic kinds: Reports based on analysis of vehicles currently In Operation (VIO), or sales of used vehicles, or sales of new vehicles. We do not provide raw data, only analysis based on vehicle registration data.
Vehicles In Operation (VIO): The VIO data is updated quarterly and shows all vehicles (model year 1981 to current year) that are currently registered and in use. We can provide analysis of classic, pre-1981 vehicles as well if requested.
Sales of used vehicles: Our data on used vehicle sales tracks when a used vehicle changes owners and is updated every month. Analysis based on quarterly or 1-year summaries is also available.
Sales of new vehicles: Our data on new vehicle sales tracks when a vehicle is registered to its first owner and is updated every month. Analysis based on quarterly and 1 year summaries is also available.
Q: What kind of information is available in the VIO data?
A: Here are the categories we can utilize in our custom reporting with a brief description of what they are.
•Make— Vehicle manufacturer.
•Model — Vehicle model.
•Model Year — VIN year, the model year of the vehicle. This is not necessarily the year the vehicle was manufactured or the year the vehicle was registered. For example, it’s possible that a 2013 Chevy was manufactured in 2012, and it’s even possible that it sat on a dealer’s lot until 2014, when it was sold. Our new vehicle data reports when vehicles are registered so for example, if you purchased data showing new registrations by month, you would see how many of those 2013 Chevys were registered in each month in 2012, 2013 or 2014.
•Series — Corresponds to trim or a more specific description of the model. Example: If “Model” is “Silverado,” then “Series” can be “1500,” “2500,” or “3500.” Also “Series” can identify if, for example, a Jetta is a TDI, Hybrid or SE.
•Fuel — Fuel type can be determined as: Gasoline, both gas and electric, conversion, diesel, electric, flex fuel, methanol, natural gas, propane.
•Doors — Number of doors on the vehicle.
•Vehicle Type — Denotes whether the vehicle is a passenger car or a truck.
•Cylinders — Number of cylinders the vehicle’s engine possesses.
•Vehicle Segment — Luxury or non luxury segment the vehicle belongs to. Includes a wide range of descriptions that separate into categories based on body style, intended use and other factors.
•GVWR — Gross Vehicle Weight Rating class. Can limit to light vehicles only (GVWR Classes 0-3) or include heavy as well (4-8).
•MSRP — Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.
•Body Style — Identifies trucks, SUVs, cab & chassis, motorhomes, sedan, convertible, coupe, hatchback, etc.
•Engine — Engine size by liter such as 3.1, 3.8, 5.0, etc.
•Geography — Depending on the geography and breakdown of the file you request this can contain a state, county, or ZIP code.
•Ownership/Registration Type — Shows whether the vehicle is registered as a personal, commercial, government, leased, etc.
•Count — Number of vehicles possessing these attributes listed in a specified geography.
Q: What is the definition a “light vehicle?”
A: You’ll often see a reference to “cars and light trucks,” which is different than medium and heavy duty trucks.
Vehicles are classified by their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and these classes range from a number 1 to 8. Cars do not have a GVWR. Light trucks are GVWR 1 through 2 or 3* which includes SUVs, some CUVs, and all the quarter-ton, half-ton and three-quarter ton pickup trucks that you see every day. Medium duty trucks are GVWR 3* or 4 to 6 which includes large commercial delivery trucks, large vans, walk-in trucks like UPS or FedEx vans, up to large beverage trucks and school buses. Heavy duty trucks are GVWR 7 and 8 which covers the largest trucks including the largest tow trucks, fire engines, cement trucks and semi trucks.
*See medium-duty vehicle Q&A, below.
Q: *What is the definition a “medium-duty vehicle?”
A: This can be confusing because there is no consistent classification of “medium duty.” At times the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other government agencies have classified light duty as 10,000 lbs. and under, which includes GVWR class 2 and below. At other times, FHWA and other agencies have classified light duty at 14,000 lbs. and under, which includes GVWR class 3 and below. For just two examples of this inconsistency within the US government see this page excluding class 3 as light-duty and this page including class 3 as light duty.
Q: What are the vehicle registration and Vehicles in Operation (VIO) custom reporting prices?
A: The price of your report depends on several things, we’ll just need to know the answers to several questions before we can give a price. All of our vehicle registration reporting is custom. Please note we do not sell VIO data outright, we can only provide analysis.
Do you want an analysis based on VIO, a sales of new vehicles file or a sales of used vehicles file? If you want a sales analysis, how many months, quarters or years do you want to cover? And do you want it analyzed down by month, quarter or just as a summary?
Do you want the report to include analysis on all vehicles (heavy & light), just light vehicles including cars and light trucks, or only a specific make/model/fuel type/year?
What geography do you want to cover, and how do you want the geography broken down? For example if you want to cover the entire US do you want our reporting to cover vehicles by state, or county, or just as an overview of the US? Geography is the most defining factor when it comes to the price of your file. A report including ZIP data from a specific state will be much more expensive than by county, or just an overview.
Finally, what kind of information do you want to know about the vehicles? You can have the report analyze year, make, model, fuel type, etc. but the more of these you include the larger and more expensive your report will be.
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