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Number of Cars in the UK 2021

Because cars are racking up fewer miles each year and able to stay on the road longer than ever before (the average age of cars in the UK has risen to 8.6 years old), there are more cars on the road now than ever before. Below we summarize UK car licensing statistics including car ownership for typical UK households.

How Many Cars are Registered in the UK?

At the end of 2020 there were 31,695,988 cars licensed in Great Britain (and 32,697,408 in the UK). If you think there are a lot more cars on the road now than there were a generation ago, you're absolutely right. Over the past 25 years, the number of cars in GB has risen 42.5%. If growth continues at the same pace, we could have 45 million cars on British roads by 2045.

However, in 2020 the number of cars dropped (by 0.6%)—while this is likely related to the pandemic, it is startling because looking back on 25 years worth of data, 2020 was the first year that the number of registered cars decreased.

Number of Cars by YearGreat BritainUnited Kingdom
202031,695,98832,697,408
201931,888,44832,884,320
201831,517,59732,493,258
201731,200,18232,159,943
201630,850,44031,792,259
201530,250,29431,170,701
201429,611,48930,513,268
201329,140,937data n/a before 2014
201228,722,453
201128,467,289
201028,420,877
200928,246,470
200828,160,702
200728,000,264
200627,609,171
200527,520,398
200427,028,099
200326,240,404
200225,781,931
200125,125,867
200024,405,549
199923,974,937
199823,293,332
199722,831,698
199622,237,538
199521,394,103
199421,199,203
Chart showing the number of cars in Great Britain 1994 to 2020
The number of cars in Great Britain continues to rise steadily, except for a small drop in 2020

Average Number of Cars per Household UK

In 2019, households in England had an average of 1.21 cars. However if we exclude London (the area with the lowest rate of vehicle ownership) then the typical English household had 1.3 cars. In London, households had 0.74 cars, meaning on average not every household has a car. Households in the South West and East of England had the highest rate of car ownership, with an average of 1.39 and 1.38 cars per household, respectively. (Note: "Cars" includes vans for this dataset.)

The biggest decrease in car ownership per household has occurred in London. In the 16 years from 2003 to 2019, the number of cars per household in London dropped 10%, from 0.82 to 0.74.

The biggest increase in car ownership per household was in the North East, where the number of cars per household grew 28% from 0.86 in 2003 to 1.1 in 2019.

Number of Cars per Household20032019% Change 2003-2019
London0.820.74-10%
South East1.301.419%
West Midlands1.151.259%
East of England1.261.389%
East Midlands1.201.3311%
South West1.241.3912%
North West1.051.1912%
Yorkshire and The Humber0.991.1920%
North East0.861.1028%
England excluding London1.161.3012%
England1.101.2110%
Chart showing the number of cars English households by area 2019
The number of cars in English households

How Many Households Don't Have a Car?

In England overall, 23.9% of households don't have a car. This number is a bit skewed by London, where 45% of households have no car. If we consider households outside of London then 20% don't have a car. In other words, 1 in 5 households outside of London don't drive. The East of England and the South West have the highest rates of car ownership, with 85.3% and 84.8% of households having at least one car or van.

Proportion of Households with No Car/Van
East of England14.7%
South West15.2%
South East16.1%
East Midlands20.2%
North West22.3%
Yorkshire and The Humber23.3%
West Midlands25.8%
North East28.3%
London45.4%
England excluding London20.0%
England23.9%
Chart showing the households in England with no car
20% of households in England have no car or van

Households without a car generally rely on public transportation to get around, enabling them to save hundreds or thousands of pounds a year on car-related expenses like car insurance.

Note: for purposes of this section, references to "car" include both cars and vans.

Number of Cars by Fuel Type

By the end of 2020, petrol and diesel cars still dominated British roads. In fact, 58.5% of cars on the road were petrol and 39.1% were diesel. In terms of real numbers, there were 19,236,721 petrol cars and 12,852,314 diesel cars registered in the UK in 2019.

How about electric or plug-in hybrid electric cars? In 2019 there were 769,322 EVs in the UK, a 3.7X increase since 2014. However, only 1.6% of cars in the UK are fully or partially fueled by electric power. Hybrid electrics are by far the most popular, with 521,891 on the road in 2019.

Number of Cars in the UK by Fuel Type
Petrol19,097,402
Diesel12,499,187
Hybrid Electric667,519
Plug-in Hybrid Electric205,442
Battery Electric193,992
Gas23,593
Range-Extended Electric9,750
Total32,697,408
Chart showing the number of cars in the UK by fuel type: petrol, diesel, electric, hybrid, etc.

FAQs

There are 32,697,408 cars registered in the UK. The number of cars in the UK rose 4.9% in just the 5 years from 2015 to 2020.

There are 2,648,088 cars registered in London. The number of cars in London rose 3.5% between 2000 and 2020.

There are 1.2 cars per household in the UK.

There are 0.74 cars per household in London.

There is no limit on how many cars a household is allowed in the UK. That said, some areas (e.g., London boroughs) impose a limit on the number of residential parking permits you can buy. So if you don't have off-street parking (e.g., a driveway) you may be limited by the residential parking permit cap.

Source

Department for Transport

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