The number of vehicles registered for use on British roads has surpassed 40 million for the first time, according to new Motorparc data released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The UK’s largest automotive analysis reveals that more than 35 million cars and five million commercial vehicles were in use in the UK in 2019, representing a 1.0% increase on the previous year.

Light commercial vehicles saw the biggest percentage growth, rising 2.7% on the previous year to 4,527,724 units, surging by 28% in the last decade2. Passenger cars, meanwhile, increased 0.8% to 35,168,259 over the same period, as the number of heavy goods vehicles grew by 0.4% to 607,998 – 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 lorries3 are keeping the nation safe, supermarket shelves stocked, and the flow of food, medicine and care to vulnerable people going during the coronavirus crisis. Equally crucial to keeping the cogs turning are the garages that have kept their doors open to ensure these vehicles remain safe and operational during this time of need.

The data also reveals that the UK’s 40 million-strong fleet now includes more than three quarters of a million low, ultra-low and zero emission cars. 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, although this segment still makes up just 2.2% of the overall car parc. 

Meanwhile the number of diesel cars in use fell marginally by -0.9% to 13,723,299, accounting for 39% of the parc, while petrol cars grew by 1.2% to 20,657,838.

The Motorparc data also reveals black as the most commonly seen car colour on the UK’s roads, with more than a fifth clad in the paint. Silver (18%) and blue (17%) are second and third choice respectively for motorists across the country and, while white (13%) takes just fifth place overall, it is the most popular colour for battery electric and hybrid plug-in cars.

The biggest city in the region, 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.