New data reveals record 41.4 million vehicles on UK roads

New data reveals record 41.4 million vehicles on UK roads
More than 41 million vehicles are now driving on UK roads – the highest number since records began.

According to new data from Motorparc and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), at the end of 2023, there was an annual increase of 1.7% to 41,404,589.

Regarding the growth in the total number of cars in the UK, there was a 1.6% yearly increase to 35,694,845. This means that there were 546,800 new units sold in 2023.

SMMT reports that plug-in vehicles saw their biggest growth in ownership since 2016.

In fact, almost half a million new battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles were registered during 2023.

The data shows that the number of BEVs in use increased by 47.3% compared with 2022.

As a result, zero emission vehicles now account for 2.7% of all cars in use on the roads today – a growth of 1.9% compared to the previous 12 months.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "After two challenging years of constrained supply, more people and businesses across the UK are now getting back behind the wheel – and increasingly, opting for greener options.

“However, given the ageing fleet, we now need to encourage consumers and businesses who have deferred purchases of new cars, vans, trucks and buses to upgrade.

“A stronger and stable economy, coupled with reduced living costs, would boost consumer and business confidence, while compelling fiscal incentives would ensure that these purchases are emissions free.

“Not only would this accelerate the transition – fundamental to the UK’s net zero ambitions – but it would also stimulate the economy and enhance the wider environment in which we all live."

Impact on emissions

The SMMT data has shown that despite a record number of motors on the road, average car’s CO2 emissions dropped 2.1%.

Furthermore, company car emissions plummeted by 11.5% in 2023, which the SMMT puts down to financial incentives encouraging fleets to invest in EVs and zero emission models.

Impact on commercial vehicles

According to the latest report, there were also record numbers of commercial vehicles that are now in use across the UK.

Currently, there are 625,873 heavy goods vehicles and 5,012,632 vans in operation – an increase of 1.7% and 2.6% respectively.

Zero emission vans also grew in numbers, with BEV volumes rising by 43.5% to 61,161 last year.

This means that 1.2% of all vans on UK roads are now zero emission.

Electric HGVs also rose 146.4% last year – however, this only represents 0.4% of the fleet.

RAC Breakdown Cover

RAC Breakdown Cover

With our cover, the difference is in your pocket.

*New customers only. Applies to Extra and Complete cover for 1 vehicle or 1 person. Ends 04/06/24, 7am. ^£7 for new, single vehicle Basic cover. Not in sale.

RAC Breakdown Cover