Out of the 28 European Union countries, Bulgaria has the eighth-lowest rate of passenger car ownership, according to figures released by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
In Bulgaria in 2016, there were 443 passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants, Eurostat said.
However, passenger car ownership rate does not appear to be much of an indicator of relative poverty or wealth. The rate of passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants was lower, for example, in Ireland (439) and Denmark (429).
Bulgaria’s northern neighbour Romania had the lowest rate: 261 per 1000 inhabitants, according to 2015 data.
In 2016, the EU had on average 505 cars per 1000 inhabitants, Eurostat said.
Among EU countries, Luxembourg topped the list with 662 cars per 1000 inhabitants, followed by Italy (625 cars), Malta (615 cars), Finland (604 cars) and Cyprus (595 cars).
At the other end of the scale, the lowest number of cars were recorded in Romania (261 cars: 2015 data), Hungary (338 cars), Latvia (341 cars) and Croatia (374 cars).
In 2016, the highest number of registered passenger cars was observed in Germany with 45 million cars. Thereafter followed Italy (37 million cars) and France (32 million cars).
Over the five year period from 2012 to 2016, there was strong growth in the number of registered passenger cars in several EU countries. The highest growth over this period was recorded in Estonia (17 per cent), followed by Slovakia and Poland (both 16 per cent), Portugal (14 per cent), Malta and the Czech Republic (both 13 per cent).
Only three EU countries recorded a decline in the number of registered passenger cars over the period observed: Greece experienced a fall of 0.15 per cent and France 0.17 per cent from 2012 to 2016; in Lithuania, the number of registered passenger cars slumped by 26 per cent over this period, mainly due to a change in register procedures in 2014, where cars that do not have compulsory technical inspection or where vehicle owner’s compulsory civil liability insurance had expired by July 1 2014 were removed from the register. Consequently, Lithuanian data from 2014 onwards cannot be directly compared to data for earlier years, Eurostat said.
Among the EU member states with the highest “motorisation rates”, i.e. passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants, there are several smaller countries.
Luxembourg (662 passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants) heads the list; however, this figure may be influenced by cross-border workers (i.e. not inhabitants) using company cars registered in the country. In second place follows Italy with 625 cars per 1000 inhabitants. Other countries with a high motorisation rate include Malta (615 cars), Finland (604 cars) and Cyprus (595 cars).
At the other end of the scale, a particularly low motorisation rate is recorded in Romania (261 cars: 2015 data), despite a growth in the number of registered cars of almost 19 per cent over the last five years (2011-2015). However, the motorisation rate is still substantially lower in the candidate countries than in the EU member states, with the lowest motorisation rate of 142 cars per 1000 inhabitants recorded in Turkey.
Despite an increase over the last years, passenger cars powered by alternative fuels, including hybrid cars, only made up a small share of the fleet of passenger cars in the EU in 2016. This is reflected by the share of cars powered by alternative fuels being low among the newly registered passenger cars.
Preferences with regards to petrol or diesel powered passenger cars vary across the EU member states; among the EU countries for which recent data are available, cars with petrol powered engines make up the majority of registered passenger cars in most of the countries; diesel powered passenger cars dominate in only eight member states.
When looking at petrol and diesel engines together, the medium sized engines dominated the passenger car fleet in most EU member states; however, in Malta, Hungary, Portugal and Romania the smallest engines dominated, Eurostat said.