SMMT: EVs drive down carbon emissions and lift vehicle ownership to record high

The number of vehicles on UK roads reached a record high in 2023, rising by 1.7% to 41,404,589 vehicles, according to new Motorparc data published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – with plug-in vehicles driving the biggest growth in car ownership since 2016.

Total cars on the road rose by 1.6% or 546,800 units to 35,694,845, after almost half a million new battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles were registered during 2023. The number of BEVs in use increased by almost half (47.3%) compared with 2022, meaning these vital zero emission vehicles now account for 2.7% of all cars in use, up from just 1.9% in 2022. With the industry now largely recovered from previous supply chain challenges that constricted deliveries in the aftermath of the pandemic, manufacturers could better meet robust pent-up demand. Implied scrappage rates of older vehicles has also fallen to the lowest on record with British motorists keeping their cars for longer, with the average car on the road now nine years old – with the average age of a car now up by more than a year since 2019.

Despite a record number of motors on the road, average car CO2 dropped -2.1% – while company car emissions plummeted by -11.5%, thanks to compelling fiscal incentives encouraging fleets to invest in EVs and manufacturer investment in new lower and zero emission models.4 Providing private consumers with similar incentives to switch would help dramatically decarbonise UK road transport.

Record numbers of commercial vehicles are now in use, with 625,873 heavy goods vehicles and 5,012,632 vans in operation, up by 1.7% and 2.6% respectively. Zero emission workhorses also recorded a boost – with BEV van volumes rising by 43.5% on 2022 to 61,161, meaning 1.2% of vans on UK roads is now zero emission. Electric HGVs rose 146.4% in 2023, although at just 0.4% of the fleet, urgent action is therefore required on grants and infrastructure – especially given that new trucks under 26 tonnes have the same end of sale date as cars and vans.

(Pic – Adobe)


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