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 Year||Great Britain||United Kingdom|
|2013||29,140,937||data n/a before 2014|
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 Household||2003||2019||% Change 2003-2019|
|East of England||1.26||1.38||9%|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||0.99||1.19||20%|
|England excluding London||1.16||1.30||12%|
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 England||14.7%|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||23.3%|
|England excluding London||20.0%|
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 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|
|Plug-in Hybrid Electric||205,442|
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.