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People outside the big cities are increasingly dependent on the car, because the distances to work, social network and facilities are increasing and public transport is less and less often a good alternative. In the large cities, the car is losing its appeal due to numerous alternatives to owning a car, parking regulation and reduced travel time gains by car. While private car ownership per capita in the center-urban areas has declined over the past decade, car ownership has clearly increased in the more rural areas. A similar trend is visible with regard to car use. This is the conclusion of researchers from the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy (KiM) in the publication 'Widespread car ownership in the Netherlands'. 


In the most urban areas of the Netherlands, 36% of people say they are increasingly dependent on the car, while in the most rural areas this share is almost twice as large, namely 64%. 1 in 3 respondents in the KiM survey agree with the statement 'car ownership is not a free choice, but a (bitter) necessity'.


Due to the dependence on the car, there are households that can hardly afford to own a car, but still have a car. They are cutting back on other household items to pay for the vehicle. According to KiM estimates, forced car ownership applies to 5% to 6% of Dutch people with a car. The government can lower the financial threshold for car ownership. This can offer solace on an individual level, but it does not reduce dependence on the car. Nor is it an answer for people who cannot, do not want to or are not allowed to drive, such as young people, seniors or the approximately 800.000 Dutch people with a driving license and fear of driving.

Ecological consequences

In addition, every extra car has ecological consequences, such as the emission of 6,7 tons of CO2 in the production process and the claim on raw materials, such as iron, aluminum, rubber, oil and – nowadays increasingly often – on rare earth metals. 

Bigger, more powerful and heavier

Because the cars in the Dutch fleet are getting bigger, more powerful and heavier, we can speak of SUV-ication. This trend has negative consequences for the safety of people on the street, the pressure on space and the use of materials, among other things. In 25 years, the total mass of the Dutch passenger car fleet has doubled. Newly registered cars are on average 24 kg heavier than those of the previous year. Due to the use of large battery packs in new cars, the increase in mass will also continue for the time being.


This KiM research into car ownership has resulted in 3 products. In a brochure they provide a comprehensive summary of all the results of the research project. In a background report they look at the social effects of car ownership in more detail. In a second background report, they look in more detail at the determinants that can better explain the differences in car ownership. Such statements offer steering options for car ownership. The government is already managing this car ownership through road tax, parking permits and purchase subsidies, according to the Knowledge Institute for Mobility Policy.

Also read: Eindhoven company launches first for the taxi sector

Car ownership in rural areas clearly increased.