Average age of UK cars rises to 8.4 years

Average age of cars oldest on record with almost 10m vehicles from 2008 and earlier still in service

The average age of cars on UK roads is now the highest on record at 8.4 years, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

With showrooms closed for large periods of 2020 due to lockdowns, fewer new cars were registered, resulting in the oldest average car fleet since records began.

The average car on UK roads was built in 2011, while almost 10 million cars have been in service since 2008 or earlier.

The latest parc data illustrates that, for the second consecutive year, there were more than 35 million cars registered on UK roads (35,082,800), although that figure represents a modest 0.2 per cent dip as Covid impacted new volumes entering the market.

Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) – the only vehicle type to see an increase – saw 1.7 per cent growth over the past year, up to a new record high of 4,604,861 vehicles.

The number of heavy goods vehicles on our roads declined by 3.1 per cent to 589,445 units.

Bus and coach numbers saw the most significant fall at 10.7 per cent to 73,608, as the pandemic dramatically reduced already-declining passenger numbers causing fleet operators to pause new fleet purchases and take unused vehicles off the road.

Electric vehicle numbers

The number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on UK roads increased by 114.3 per cent to a record high of 199,085, while plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) also saw their numbers increase by 35.2 per cent to 239,510.

However, combined, they represented just 1.3 per cent of all cars on our roads.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) saw their numbers grow by a fifth to 621,622 cars.

Petrol and diesel numbers

Petrol car volumes remained stable, down 0.2 per cent, with diesel falling 2.3 per cent.

Combined, internal combustion engine (ICE) models accounted for 97.1 per cent of the total parc – or 34,018,599 units.

Britain’s favourite car types are still the supermini and lower medium segments which account for six in 10 cars in service, at 11,620,733 and 9,256,839 units respectively.

Dual purpose vehicles remain a distant third, with 4,619,061 in use but now account for 13.2 per cent of cars on the road, as consumer tastes and demand shift.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With the pandemic putting the brakes on new vehicle uptake in 2020, the average car on our roads is now the oldest since records began some 20 years ago, as drivers held on to their existing vehicles for longer.

“The technology is changing, however, albeit slowly.

“Despite massive growth last year, just one in 80 vehicles is a plug-in electric car – while nearly 10 million petrol and diesel cars dating back to before 2008 remain on our roads.

“Encouraging drivers to upgrade to the newest, cleanest lowest emission cars, regardless of fuel source, is essential for the UK to meet its ambitious climate change targets.”

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.


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