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 2022 there were 32,169,932 cars licensed in Great Britain (and 33,187,308 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 41%. If growth continues at the same pace, we could have 45 million cars on British roads by 2045.
Back 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. And in 2021 the number of cars started to climb again.
|Number of Cars by Year||Great Britain||United Kingdom|
|2013||29,140,937||data n/a before 2014|
Average Number of Cars per Household UK
In 2022, households in England had an average of 1.22 cars. However if we exclude London (the area with the lowest rate of vehicle ownership) then the typical English household had 1.30 cars. In London, households had 0.76 cars, meaning on average not every household has a car. Households in the South West and South East had the highest rate of car ownership, with an average of 1.40 and 1.42 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 19 years from 2003 to 2022, the number of cars per household in London dropped 8%, from 0.82 to 0.76.
The biggest increase in car ownership per household was in the North East, where the number of cars per household grew 31% from 0.86 in 2003 to 1.13 in 2022.
|Area||2003||2022||Percentage Change 2003 - 2022|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||0.99||1.14||16%|
|East of England||1.26||1.37||8%|
|England excluding London||1.16||1.30||13%|
How Many Households Don't Have a Car?
In England overall, 21.6% of households don't have a car. This number is a bit skewed by London, where 41.1% of households have no car. If we consider households outside of London then 18% don't have a car. In other words, 1 in 6 households outside of London don't drive. The South East and the South West have the highest rates of car ownership, with 85.4% and 87.3% of households having at least one car or van.
|Proportion of Households with No Car/Van|
|East of England||17.3%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||23.2%|
|England excluding London||18.0%|
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 June 2023, petrol and diesel cars still dominated British roads. In fact, 59% of cars on the road were petrol and 35% were diesel. In terms of real numbers, there were 19,243,306 petrol cars and 11,498,138 diesel cars registered in the UK in 2023. There are 7% fewer diesel cars on the road now compared to two years ago.
How about electric or plug-in hybrid electric cars? In mid 2023 there were 2,718,386 EVs in the UK, a 14X increase since 2014. In June 2023, 8.3% of cars in the UK were fully or partially fueled by electric power. Hybrid electrics are by far the most popular, with 1,468,350 on the road in 2023.
|Number of Cars in the UK by Fuel Type||June 2023|
|Plug-in Hybrid Electric||460,941|
There were 33,187,308 cars registered in the UK at the end of 2022 and 33,488,200 by June 2023. The number of cars in the UK rose 3.2% in just the 5 years from 2017 to 2022.
There are 2,608,538 cars registered in London in June 2023. The number of cars in London rose 5% in the 20 years between 2003 and 2023.
There are 1.30 cars per household in the UK.
There are 0.76 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.