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There Are More Wheels Than Doors in the World

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R.E. Fulton
· 6 min read
When Ryan Nixon asked
Twitter
users whether they thought there were more doors or wheels in the world, he probably didn’t expect to start an online war. But that’s exactly what happened; social media users, statisticians, and mathematicians have all tried to solve this riddle. 
  • It’s safe to assume billions of doors and wheels occupy Earth, but it’s hard to find a definitive answer.
  • When counting up all the wheels in the world, remember they exist elsewhere in addition to cars.

How many doors are there in the world?

Without getting too deep into the numbers, we can estimate that there are as many as 33 billion doors in the world, between houses, apartment buildings, office buildings, skyscrapers, vehicles, and the cabinets, closets, and other compartments inside them. 
That’s a lot of doors! But how does it compare to the number of wheels? 
Okay, team wheels and team doors: let’s take a look. 

How many wheels are there in the world?

It’s pretty much impossible to give an exact count of all the wheels that exist in the world. After all, we’re making more all the time, and have been ever since the first wheel was invented around 3,500 BCE. 
About 152,971 passenger cars were manufactured in 2020 alone (that’s 17 a second!), and even Hot Wheels produces close to 15 cars every second! That’s not taking into account all of the wheels turned out each day for bicycles, shopping carts, airplanes, office chairs, and non-Hot Wheels toys. 
To get a decent estimate of the number of wheels in the world, let’s break down the different types of wheels. 

Cars

The first car, the three-wheel Benz Patent Motor Car, was invented in 1886.
There are 1.446 billion cars in the world today. Multiply that by four, the average number of wheels on a standard modern passenger car, and you’re looking at 5.784 billion wheels. 
But don’t most cars have the same number of doors and wheels?
It’s true: While many vehicles only have two doors, most of the cars manufactured in the world are sedans, four-door SUVs, and other cars with an apparent wheel-to-door ratio of 4:4. For instance, the Toyota Corolla, the best-selling car of all time with 37.5 million units sold, has four doors and four wheels—a wash, right? 
Wrong: Most cars have the same number of doors and tires—but wheels are a very different matter. After all, every car has a steering wheel. The gears that run your engine? Those are wheels, too. In fact, your car is full of wheels, big and small, that unquestionably outnumber the doors. 
Even if we knock off the four main wheels and limit our count to steering wheels and transmissions, that’s an average of six wheels per car. Do the math, and we’re talking 8.676 billion wheels—more wheels than people, let alone doors for them to walk through! 

Toy wheels

Toys are another major source of wheels, from Hot Wheels cars to LEGOs to Tonka trucks, Razor scooters, and that Fisher-Price corn popper toy that toddlers push around. 
Hot Wheels alone has sold more than six billion cars, meaning there are roughly 24 billion tiny wheels out there in the world—and these miniatures don’t have working doors, meaning that every one of those wheels stays in the county. 
Hasbro’s Tonka has sold millions of pint-sized construction vehicles, with over 15 million sales of the iconic yellow Mighty Dump Truck alone. Hello, 60 million more wheels. 
We could keep going—but adding up the sales of every single toy car company is a task too gargantuan even for us. Suffice it to say that if the gears-and-steering-wheel argument didn’t convince you, the toy industry produces enough wheels every second to outnumber the world’s doors without a sweat. 

Bicycles and motorcycles

Sometimes two wheels are all you need—just ask bicycle and motorcycle enthusiasts! 
Bicycles have been around since German inventor Karl von Drais patented the first in 1817, and there are about 1 billion bicycles in the world today.
Motorcycles
, on the other hand, were invented by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885, and there are just 49 million today. 
Between bicycles and motorcycles, we add at least 2 billion wheels—and that’s not taking into account gears! 

Other wheels: shopping carts, trailers, and furniture

Between cars, toys, and other wheeled vehicles, it’s already clear that wheels outnumber doors. But if you’re still not convinced, take a look around your home and neighborhood. 
Got an office chair in your spare room (thank you, work-from-home)? That’s an average of five wheels. Shopping carts, hand trucks, trailers, and baby strollers all have wheels (and no doors). 
If you’ve got any furniture in your home with casters, those count as wheels too—and, if we’re getting really technical about it, every single sliding drawer in your home requires at least a couple of wheels to operate. 

The bottom line

We’re nowhere near an exact estimate of the total number of wheels in the world, but it doesn’t matter. Already, we’ve identified well over a possible 37 billion wheels in the world—way more than the number of doors. 

Which country has the most wheels?

So it’s official: there are more wheels than doors in the world. But which country has the most? 
That honor might go to China, which has an estimated 302 million cars alone (not counting other wheel sources). However, itty-bitty San Marino might have the world’s highest concentration of wheels, with 1,263 vehicles per 1,000 people. The country that drives the least, on the other hand, is Bangladesh, with just 4 vehicles per 1,000 people. 
In the United States, you’re probably expecting to find the highest concentration of wheels in L.A.—and you’d be close! Car ownership statistics show that nearby
Murrieta
actually has the highest rate of vehicle ownership of any US city. 
The city that drives the least, on the other hand, is (of course)
New York City
, where the MTA runs all hours of the day to get New Yorkers around the five boroughs. But at the bottom of every New York City subway car, amongst the garbage and the rats, you’ll find eight glorious wheels. 

Why it matters

Haters will say that the doors vs. wheels debate is a pointless argument, designed to waste time and turn friends against each other. But there may be a deeper truth beneath the madness. 
Every wheel represents progress, forward motion, and power. If your first answer to the question “are there more doors or wheels” was “wheels, of course,” you may be more tuned in to those elements of life, more open to new experiences, and more driven to explore the world. 
Wheels are everywhere—and that’s a beautiful thing. 
Jerry
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