Vehicle ownership in the UK passes 40 million

Published:  21 April, 2020

While COVID-19 has pressed the pause button on new car sales, it turns out that the number of cars already on the roads offers garages a bigger market than ever before, with number of vehicles on UK roads exceeding 40 million for the first time.

According to new Motorparc data from the SMMT, 40.4 million vehicles are now registered for use in Britain, made up of more than 35 million cars and five million commercial vehicles. This represents a 1.0% increase on the previous year.

LCVs saw the biggest percentage growth, rising 2.7% on the previous year to 4,527,724 units, surging by 28% in the last decade. Passenger cars, meanwhile, increased 0.8% to 35,168,259 over the same period.

The UK’s 40 million-strong fleet now includes more than three quarters of a million low, ultra-low and zero emission cars. The number of these cars grew by 26% last year, with 532,603 hybrids, 144,335 plug-in hybrids and 92,913 battery electric vehicles now in use, although this segment still makes up just 2.2% of the overall car parc. Meanwhile diesel cars fell by 0.9% to 13,723,299, accounting for 39% of the parc, while petrol cars grew by 1.2% to 20,657,838.

With more drivers opting for the latest low emission vehicle technology, average CO2 emissions continue to fall across the parc – down -19.2% since 2008 to the lowest on record.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “As the UK continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, keeping food, medical supplies and the people serving on the front line moving has never been so important – and these figures show the essential role Britain’s vehicle fleet plays for society. They also provide evidence that industry’s ongoing investment into ever cleaner, safer and more reliable vehicle technology is paying off, even as demand for mobility grows.

“To ensure this trend continues, we must get the right support for businesses and their workers in place now so that when this crisis is over, the sector can help get the whole country and our economy back on the move.”

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