Is The UK Ditching Car Travel?

Tue 7th Jun 2022

Amidst worrying times for the motoring industry, new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveals stark facts about the state of sales, production and car ownership in what are the most challenging of times.

The SMMT’s annual Motorparc report, is a snapshot of the UK’s car population, giving a glimpse into how the motoring public are engaging and relating to the prospect of owning, buying and driving a car.

In what might be a surprise to some, in a year when the after effects of lockdown, Brexit and the continued microchip shortage hit production levels, there was actually a 0.4% increase on the number of cars on UK roads in 2021. There were 40,506,971 cars registered and available to drive, however in what many might think to be a contradiction, there were actually fewer car owners, falling by 0.2% - the first consecutive annual decrease in ownership in more than 100 years.

The ongoing issues in the industry have had an obvious impact, whist outside pressures such as the cost of living crisis may have contributed to the average car age rising to 8.7 years old, more than a year older than a decade ago. Those same cost of living worries may have also helped the growth of EVs, with electric car use up by 71 per cent, no doubt helped by the spiralling cost of petrol and diesel.

This news on EVs was one of the few high points for Mike Hawes, SMMT, Chief Executive, who said: “Britain’s switch to electric vehicles continues to gather pace, with a record one in five new car registrations now plug-ins. However, they still represent just one in 50 cars on the road, so there is significant ground to cover if we are to fully decarbonise road transport at pace.

“The first consecutive annual fall in vehicle numbers in more than a century shows how significantly the pandemic has impacted the industry, leading Britons to hold onto their cars for longer. With fleet renewal essential to net zero, we must build consumer confidence in the economy and, for drivers, confidence in the charging infrastructure to get the transition into top gear.”