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Decade's fastest growth sees almost 32 million cars on the road

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Rising new car registrations and longer lasting cars combined to push up the UK car parc by more than 436,000 units, according to a new study by the SMMT.

The SMMT's 'Motorparc' study is the UK's biggest automotive census and is compiled annually covering 31,917,885 cars on UK roads.

The 1.4% rise in the 2013 parc marked the fastest rate of growth for 10 years. This saw the number of older cars rise at a pace as ever increasing reliability and economic factors combined. Cars older than 12 years rose 11.3% against 2012 with 2.06 million more cars recorded in the latest census. Compared with a decade ago, the average age of a car increased by a full year (to 7.7 years old), as the trend grew longer for cars remaining on the road.

"With more cars bought and less scrapped in recent years, the total number on UK roads reached an all-time high last year," said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. "Major investment by manufacturers in advanced production techniques, supported by longer vehicle warranties, has seen car reliability enhanced still further. Additionally, spreading the cost of regular maintenance through service packages makes car ownership more affordable, so it is not surprising that people are running cars for longer."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “This is good news for drivers because lower carbon emissions go hand in hand with better fuel consumption. However these numbers are based on lab tests and out in the real world emissions are estimated to be as much as 20% higher.

“There is also the problem of the ‘squeezed middle’. As a nation we are buying more superminis but the market for bigger cars is also growing. The danger is that as people get more money in their pockets they will start buying higher emission cars again.

“To counter this there is a strong argument for making the tax incentives for buying greener vehicles more attractive. Some also argue that to speed up the turnover of the diesel fleet and hence decarbonise it faster we should have another scrappage scheme. This would also help improve air quality.”



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