UK car ownership sees second consecutive annual fall in 100 years

The total number of UK cars fell slightly in 2021 to just over 35million while drivers putting off car purchases say the average age of cars increase

Car ownership decreased by 0.2 percent in 2021, while the average age of cars on UK roads increased to 8.7 years - more than a year older than the average a decade ago.

The latest report on the UK car population released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) puts the blame largely on ‘pandemic-related market disruptions’ for drivers holding onto their cars for longer. That’s a reference to the effects of showroom closures due to Covid, and the global shortage of semiconductor ‘chips’ that has played havoc with new car production.

However, the SMMT also says cars being more reliable means people are able to hang onto them for longer - indeed, around 8.4 million UK cars are more than 13 years old, which is just under a quarter of the cars on the road.

The decrease in car ownership, although tiny, is significant as only the second consecutive decrease in the last 100 years. It means the car population of the UK has remained broadly the same as last year at just over 35 million, although the total number of vehicles on the road increased by 0.4 per cent due to a strong year for light van sales, and increasing numbers of HGV sales. There are now more than 4.8m vans on the road, along with 604,000 trucks and 74,451 buses, adding up to a total of 40.5m vehicles on our roads.

Helping to make up that number, the SMMT, says are nearly three-quarters of a million plug-in electric vehicles including battery electric vehicles and hybrids. That means nearly one in 50 cars.

Now take a look at the best cars for sale in the UK, our 2021 New Car Award winners...

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