The number of vehicles registered for use on UK roads has exceeded 40 million for the first time, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Analysis shows that more than 35 million cars and five million commercial vehicles were in use in the UK in 2019, an increase of 1% on the previous year.
The total includes more than 750,000 low, ultra-low and zero emission vehicles. 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.
Birmingham has the second highest number of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles after Greater London, with some 24,000 zero and ultra-low emission cars on the city’s roads.
Light commercial vehicles grew by 2.7% on the previous year to 4.5m units, surging by 28% in the last decade. Passenger cars, meanwhile, increased 0.8% in the same period. The number of heavy goods vehicles grew by 0.4% to 608,000 – 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 are keeping the nation safe, supermarket shelves stocked, and the flow of food, medicine and care to vulnerable people going during the coronavirus crisis.
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.”
Most popular cars
The SMMT’s Motorparc data reveals black as the most commonly seen car colour on the UK’s roads, with more than a fifth (7.1m) clad in the paint.
There are more superminis on UK roads than any other category of car, with the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa the most common models.
The BMW 3 Series is the only premium badge car to feature in the top 10 list, with more than half a million examples on UK roads.