This paper presents a mixed-method analysis of car ownership in Reykjavik, Iceland, a location with a high motorization level and deeply rooted car culture. We utilize qualitative interviews to understand vehicle possession reasons and elaborate the study with statistical analysis using a softGIS survey dataset with characteristics of the respondents and their residential location. We focus on adults aged 25 to 40, who are suggested to be less car-oriented than older generations. We also describe the historic development of Reykjavik’s car culture to give a perspective for the findings. We show that even among the studied age group, car ownership is still seen as a social norm, with few even seeing it possible to live without a car, and the public transport system is seen as giving a poverty stigma. However, we still find an increasing share of car-free households towards the city center. Still, the built environment impact is limited to the city center, which has a higher proportion of small adult-only households residing in shared apartments than other areas. Moreover, there seems to be a three-fold connection between having a child, acquiring a car (if not already possessed), and choosing a suburban residential location. Some indications of residential self-selection related to car ownership were found, but pro-car attitudes and residential location independently influenced car ownership. This study helps to understand the reasons for high car dominance and supports designing policies to reduce car-dependency, not just in Reykjavik but also elsewhere.
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