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Motorization in the FRG and the GDR (1960-1990)

In the last third of the 20th century, the number of cars increased more than six-fold in West Germany and fifteen-fold in the East. While there was one car for every two people in the FRG, there was one car for every four in the GDR. East German cars were also of much lower quality.

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The Stock of Motor Vehicles


The total stock of motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, and tractors) in the territory of the former Federal Republic rose from 8 million in 1960 to 36.5 million in 1991. The number of passenger cars alone rose from almost 4.5 million to 31.3 million. This represents a good seven-fold increase over the last thirty-one years.

Inventory of Road Vehicles

Motor vehicles
Year
of those
Total
Cars
Trucks
in thousands
Territory of the former Federal Republic
1960
8,004
4,489
681
1970
16,783
13,941
1,028
1980
27,116
23,192
1,277
1985
30,618
25,845
1,281
1990
35,748
30,685
1,389
1991
36,529
31,322
1,440
Territory of the former GDR
1960
1,426
313
119
1970
2,979
1,166
186
1980
4,612
2,678
234
1985
5,282
3,306
221
1990
6,903
4,817
264

In the former GDR there was also a clear rise in the number of motor vehicles (1960: 1.4 million; 1990: 6.9 million). The total stock of passenger cars grew from 0.3 million in 1960 to 4.8 million in 1990. In 1990 there were about 300 cars per 1,000 residents, compared with 500 cars per 1,000 residents in the territory of the former Federal Republic.

Between 1960 and 1990 a total of 64.5 million cars were newly registered in the territory of the former Federal Republic. The statistical average is two million cars per year. This average figure more or less corresponds to the value for 1973. Since then, the figure was lower only in 1974. The number of registrations exceeded the 3 million mark for passenger cars for the first time in 1990. This also explains the great economic significance of the automobile industry.

Cars are mainly used for private purposes. This leads to more individual travel, with its diverse effects on the traffic situation in cities and on public transportation.



Source: Federal Office of Statistics [Statistisches Bundesamt], ed., Datenreport 1992. Zahlen und Fakten ├╝ber die Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Data Report 1992. Numbers and Facts about the Federal Republic of Germany]. Bonn, 1992, pp. 376-77.

Translation: Allison Brown

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