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2.1 Car ownership

Car ownership is important in today's society with over 50% of households owning one car*, almost two fifths owning two and nearly one in ten being three or more car households.

But the 28% year-on-year fall in new car purchases in the first four months of this year, reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), is reflected in the average age of a motorist's car. In 2009 only 8% drive a car less than a year old with the majority owning one over three years old - the average age is 5.6 years. Nearly a sixth drive a car more than 10 years old and how motorists have reacted to the new car scrappage scheme is explored in section 2.5.

A third of motorists drive a mini or super-mini with another four in ten driving small and medium sized cars. Only 12% drive a people carrier or 4x4 and less than one in ten a luxury saloon or sports car.

The car scrappage scheme was proposed in the Budget in April this year and runs until March 2010. Anyone who has been the registered keeper for at least 12 months, of a car over 10 years old will be given a £2,000 discount when they trade it in for a new one.

The £2,000 comes equally from the Government and the manufacturer of the new car they are purchasing. The Government has set aside £300m to help 300,000 motorists driving older more polluting cars to change their vehicle using the scheme.

Percentage of drivers who would reduce their car usage if public transport were better:

67% 2009
48% 2007

Car sales overall have plummeted and motorists appear to have put their replacement plans on hold...

73% felt a car scrappage scheme for cars over ten years old was a compelling reason to buy a low emission car

* Source: RAC Report on Motoring 2009.
† Source:

2.2 Motorists' views

2.0 Motorists and their cars