UK cars older than ever as van numbers surge

Published:  21 May, 2021

Vehicle numbers on UK roads fell for the first time since 2009 during 2020 as the pandemic put a stranglehold on sales according to the latest motorparc data released by the SMMT. However, independent garages may welcome the fact that the average car is now more venerable than ever at 8.4 years old, putting the majority squarely in the sights of the aftermarket.

There were 35,082,800 cars registered in the UK, which was actually 0.2% down.The total number of vehicles on UK roads fell to 40,350, 714 in 2020, although van uptake is the highest it has ever been, making up 11.4% of the total. LCVs actually saw a 1.7% increase, totalling 4,604, 861. At the sane time, HGV numbers fell by 3.1% to 589,445, and buses and coaches dropped 10.7% to 73,608.

The average car on UK roads was built in 2011, with nearly 10 million cars have been in use since 2008 or earlier.

As part of the journey towards zero emission motoring, the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on UK roads increased by 114.3% to 199,085, while plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) also increased by 35.2% to 239,510. However, that totals just 1.3% of all cars. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) grew to 621,622 cars. Combined, internal combustion engine (ICE) models accounted for 97.1% of the total parc – or 34,018,599 units.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Mike Hawes said: “With the pandemic putting the brakes on new vehicle uptake in 2020, the average car on our roads is now the oldest since records began some 20 years ago, as drivers held on to their existing vehicles for longer. The technology is changing, however, albeit slowly. Despite massive growth last year, just one in 80 vehicles is a plug-in electric car – while nearly 10 million petrol and diesel cars dating back to before 2008 remain on our roads. Encouraging drivers to upgrade to the newest, cleanest lowest emission cars, regardless of fuel source, is essential for the UK to meet its ambitious climate change targets.”

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