The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has announced that the number of vehicles registered for use on British roads has surpassed 40 million for the first time.
The Motorparc data revealed that more than 35 million cars and five million commercial vehicles were in use in the UK in 2019, representing a 1.0% increase on the previous year.
Light commercial vehicles reportedly 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, as the number of heavy goods vehicles grew by 0.4% to 607,998 – said to be the largest number delivering for Britain since 1990.
Many of these vehicles are said to be 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 are keeping the nation safe, supermarket shelves stocked, and the flow of food, medicine and care to vulnerable people going during the coronavirus crisis. Equally crucial to keeping the cogs turning are the garages that have kept their doors open to ensure these vehicles remain safe and operational during this time of need.
The data also revealed that 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 11,832 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 said to be opting for the latest low emission vehicle technology, average CO2 emissions have reportedly continued 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, SMMT Chief Executive, 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.”