UK car parc at highest level

There were more vehicles on UK roads than ever before last year, according to data produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It reported that the number of vehicles increased by 1.7% to 41,404,589 during 2023, the biggest annual growth recorded since 2016.

The number of cars rose by 1.6% (546,800) to 35,694,845 units, driven largely by a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles. Nearly half a million new EVs were registered during 2023, representing a rise of 47.3%.

Meanwhile, commercial vehicles also enjoyed a year of rapid growth, with 625,873 heavy goods vehicles and 5,012,632 vans now in operation, up by 1.7% and 2.6% respectively. BEV van volumes were up 43.5% to 61,161 units, meaning 1.2% of vans on UK roads is now zero emission.

Elsewhere, the number of EV buses were up by 159% to 1,922 units, making the UK Europe’s biggest market for zero emission buses and coaches.

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.”