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Total number of vehicles on Britain’s roads reaches highest level ever

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have released annual Motorparc data showing that there are now more vehicles on Britain’s roads than ever before. (‘Parc’ is a European term for all registered vehicles within a defined geographic region).

The total number of vehicles has risen 0.5% to just over 40 million, of which 35 million are cars, 4.8 million vans, 615,570 trucks and 72,700 buses.

Every category has seen a rise in numbers except for buses/coaches which are now at the lowest level since records began. A quarter of the buses currently on the road have been in service for 15 years or more. 

46% of the cars on the road are ten years old or more – the average age of a car being nine years.

94.4% of cars are still running on petrol or diesel, while the number of battery electric vehicles has nudged up to 1.1 million, representing one in 32 of all the cars on the road.

The SMMT point out that while the umber of vehicles has risen, CO2 emission has fallen as the take up of EVs has plodded along.

The number of electric commercial vehicles has also risen, with vans up some 67.3% and buses and coaches increasing by 34.9%, while the number of zero emission trucks has almost trebled since last year – although that is still represents less than one in 600 of the total fleet. 

Confirming that the charging infrastructure is not keeping pace, the data reveals that there is one standard public charger for every 36 electric cars on the road, which is down from 31 in 2021. As we reported recently, there are no dedicated HGV charging points on the UK’s strategic road network at all, and the SMMT observe that much needs to be done to provided suitable charging for van drivers too.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘After two tough years, Britain is on the road to recovery with the first growth in car ownership since the pandemic – while vans and trucks also continue to deliver for business and society in ever greater numbers. Better still, we are driving Britain towards a net zero future with more than a million zero emission vehicles now on the road and cutting carbon. With exciting new technologies and models fuelling our appetite to get back behind the wheel, now is the time to commit to greater investment in infrastructure and incentives, to speed up a switch to carbon-free mobility that is accessible to all.’

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