UK vehicle ownership surpasses 40 million

Vehicle ownership in the UK has surpassed 40 million for the first time, according to new data released today.

The figures, revealed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), show that more than 35 million cars and five million commercial vehicles were in use during 2019 – an increase of one per cent on the previous year.

The biggest percentage growth was recorded in the light commercial vehicle sector, which saw an increase of 2.7 per cent on the previous year to 4,527,724 units – up 28 per cent compared the previous decade.

Passenger car numbers increased by 0.8 per cent to 35,168,259 over the same period.

Thousands of these vehicles are currently in operation to help provide transport for key workers during the coronavirus crisis, as well as for performing deliveries and emergency service duties. Some 25,000 ambulance and fire service vehicles are currently in operation, along with more than 20,000 supermarket delivery trucks and lorries.

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.”

Electric vehicle ownership is also surging ahead, with more than three-quarters of a million low, ultra-low and zero-emissions cars making up that 40 million figure. The number of these cars on the road grew by 26 per cent last year, with 11,832 hybrids, 144,335 plug-in hybrids and 92,213 battery-electric vehicles now in use across the UK.

The number of diesel cars, meanwhile, fell by 0.9 per cent to 13,723,299.