The number of vehicles registered for use on UK roads has surpassed 40m for the first time, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
More than 35m cars and 5m commercial vehicles were in use in the UK in 2019, representing a 1% year-on-year increase.
Light commercial vehicles saw the biggest percentage growth, rising 2.7% on the previous year to 4,527,724 units, surging by 28% in the last decade2. Passenger cars, meanwhile, increased 0.8% to 35,168,259 over the same period, as the number of heavy goods vehicles grew by 0.4% to 607,998 – the largest number delivering for Britain since 1990.
Many of these vehicles are helping to provide transport for essential workers, deliveries and emergency services. Some 25,000 ambulance and fire service vehicles, together with more than 20,000 supermarket delivery trucks and lorries.
The data also reveals that the UK’s 40m-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, the number of diesel cars in use fell marginally 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. Manufacturer investment in new technologies, from Euro 6 petrols and diesels, to plug-ins and hybrids, mean drivers and operators can now take advantage of a diverse range of efficient models and specifications that best suit their needs.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, 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 the 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.”