China and India have joined the ranks of the world's biggest car owners as millions of people swap their motorcycles for four wheels, according to a survey released on Thursday.
Nine per cent of Indians and six per cent of Chinese aged 18 and above now own a car, making them the 11th and 12th highest-ranking countries worldwide for car sales.
However, the level of car ownership in the two countries is way behind the US where 89 per cent own a car, Britain where 80 per cent own a car and Germany where 76 per cent own a car, found the Nielsen Company market research group.
The Asia-Pacific region's top country for car ownership is New Zealand where 82 per cent own a car followed by South Korea at 74 per cent, Australia at 70 per cent, Malaysia at 67 per cent and Taiwan at 66 per cent.
Thirty-one per cent of Thai adults have a car while only 21 per cent of Singaporeans and 16 per cent of Hong Kongers own one. Ten per cent of people in the Philippines and 8 per cent of Indonesians are car owners.
The world's fastest growing car markets are China and India, the report found, and car manufacturers invested $1.85 billion on marketing in China in 2006, nearly half the region's total car advertising spending.
Richard Basil-Jones, the Nielsen Company's managing director for Asia Pacific, said: "China's market for car parts and accessories is already huge and car manufacturers will be tapping that potential.
"In addition, with penetration currently sitting at the world's lowest, the opportunity to entice the emerging affluent Chinese consumers into car ownership is immense.
"Because of China's size, increasing penetration by just one or two per cent would bring tremendous rewards for the automotive industry."