Car numbers on Britain’s roads return to pre-pandemic levels – with more than a million EVs now – Car Dealer Magazine

The number of cars on Britain’s roads has gone back to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, the SMMT said today.

What’s more, there are now more than a million EVs out there.

According to the trade body’s new annual Motorparc data, car ownership in the UK rose by 124,393 units last year to a total of 35,148,045. In 2019, the figure was 35,168,259.


In addition, one in 32 cars driving in Britain now has a plug, amounting to 1,089,241 vehicles – a rise of more than half over the past year and comprising 3.1 per cent of the parc.

Battery-electric cars made up 652,341 of the figure and plug-in hybrid cars 436,900.

As a result, despite the overall increase in vehicles on the road, average car and van CO2 emissions have fallen by 1.6 per cent, it said.


Meanwhile, with supply shortages beginning to ease and scrappage levels declining, the overall number of vehicles has risen to a record figure of 40,723,974 units – an increase of 0.5 per cent.

Businesses are also said to be getting into gear to help deliver the UK’s post-pandemic recovery, with 615,570 trucks and 4,887,593 vans in service – up 1.9 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.

The SMMT said Britain’s HGV parc was now at record levels, with vans accounting for almost one in eight vehicles in use – the largest proportion ever recorded.

But the trade body warned that the public chargepoint roll-out was still lagging behind EV uptake, with one standard public charger for every 36 plug-in cars on the road – down from 31 in 2021.

It cited Department for Transport data that said there were 30,168 slow/fast chargers in January 2023.

The SMMT emphasised that the need for investment was even more intense than for other road transport sectors, as the existing chargepoints might not be in the best locations or of the right size for van operators.


It added that there were no dedicated HGV charging points on the UK’s strategic road network at all.

Chief executive Mike Hawes 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.’

The top 10 cars of 2022, according to the SMMT, were:

  1. Ford Fiesta – 1,516,560
  2. Ford Focus – 1,090,777
  3. Vauxhall Corsa – 1,064,577
  4. Volkswagen Golf – 1,020,101
  5. Vauxhall Astra – 762,609
  6. Volkswagen Polo – 709,197
  7. Mini – 698,308
  8. Nissan Qashqai – 637,764
  9. BMW 3 Series – 528,601
  10. Toyota Yaris – 520,207

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