This paper proposes a low-cost but indirect method for occupancy detection and occupant counting purpose in current and future automotive systems. It can serve as either a way to determine the number of occupants riding inside a car or a way to complement the other devices in determining the occupancy. The proposed method is useful for various mobility applications including car rental, fleet management, taxi, car sharing, occupancy in autonomous vehicles, etc. It utilizes existing on-board motion sensor measurements, such as those used in the vehicle stability control function, together with door open and closed status. The vehicle’s motion signature in response to an occupant’s boarding and alighting is first extracted from the motion sensors that measure the responses of the vehicle body. Then the weights of the occupants are estimated by fitting the vehicle responses with a transient vehicle dynamics model. This two stage approach is further used to determine how many occupants are staying in the car. The effectiveness of the proposed approaches has been verified in vehicle tests through a variety of occupancy configurations.