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The impact of recession

Time 1:05 pm, July 3, 2012

THE recession has changed the shape of the UK’s car parc according to new figures released by the SMMT.

Over the last 10 years, the total number of cars on UK roads (parc) has grown nine per cent, but that is a slower rate than the previous decade which recorded a 17 per cent rise.

To the end of last year, the total parc increased to 31,362,716, up on 2010 by 104,519 units (0.3 per cent).


The average car on UK roads is now 7.44 years old, around two months older than a year ago, suggesting cash strapped motorists are keeping cars for longer.

However, this could be a false economy as the average new car is 20 per cent more efficient than a typical seven year old car, saving the average motorist around £400 each year, says the SMMT. In the average car’s lifetime, it will have four owners, but there are 341 cars on UK roads with more than 20 registered keepers, and more than 5.3mn cars over 12 years old.

The data comes from the SMMT’s largest ever annual Motorparc census that analyses full details including make, model, variant, colour, emissions and age of every car, van, truck, bus and coach on UK roads.

Fuel efficient nation


Motorists continued to seek out the most fuel efficient vehicles in 2011, as diesel car registrations overtook petrol for the first time taking a 50.6 per cent market share. The growing trend of diesel registrations, coupled with the increasing share of alternatively-fuelled vehicles, resulted in there now being fewer petrol cars on the road than at any time since 1988, highlights the report.

The number of tax-free cars on the road also doubled since last year to more than 120,000 vehicles (cars emitting under 100g/km CO2 pay £0 VED).

Fiesta is top

Ford’s Focus ranks as the most popular car on UK roads. The family hatchback is followed its smaller brother, the Fiesta, Vauxhall’s Astra and Corsa, and the Volkswagen Golf is the UK’s fifth most popular car.

MPVs and silver grow in popularity

The SMMT report also shows that the car segment to have seen the biggest growth over the last decade was MPV recording a 205 per cent rise.

The colour silver was the UK’s most popular colour in 2011 taking a 25.6 per cent share of the total parc. Silver cars are followed by blue, black, red and grey.

Ten years ago, however, the colour blue was the UK’s most popular colour followed by red, silver, green and white.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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