UK’s biggest ever automotive census redraws map of UK

25 March 2013 #SMMT News

Automotive industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, has just completed its largest ever analysis of vehicle ownership in the UK. Tracking buying trends, ownership changes and transport preferences, the study records detail of each of the 35,760,901 cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches currently on UK roads.

The research into SMMT’s Motorparc data unearthed a wealth of statistically important facts, such as the trend towards smaller engines; the growth of low-carbon diesel power and the rise over time of the smallest class of cars, plus MPVs’ increasing market share. Alongside this key data, that paints a picture of UK motorists’ changing relationships with vehicles, a host of intriguing stats came to light, redrawing the map in terms of the nation’s motoring preferences.

Worcester emerged at the UK’s most patriotic place with more than a quarter of cars on its streets being built in the UK. The top Brit-built car in the town is the record-breaking Nissan Qashqai, built in Sunderland where Nissan produced more than 500,000 new cars last year alone.

In 2012, the UK was the second largest provider of new cars to the domestic market with only Germany putting more cars on our streets. There are 15 global automotive brands building cars across the UK, producing more than 20 different mainstream vehicles alongside another 20-plus specialist and luxury models from the likes of Bentley, McLaren, Morgan and Rolls-Royce.

The most fuel efficient town in the UK is Slough, with the average car there topping 50mpg, thanks to more than 60% of its motors being diesel-powered. The City of London captures both ends of the efficiency spectrum, boasting the highest proportion of ultra-efficient ‘alternatively-fuelled vehicles’, but also having the UK’s biggest average engine size at 2.5-litres.

Last year, the number of VED-free (sub-100g/km CO2) cars rocketed, more than doubling their share of the market to 8.2% in the year. This trend towards low emissions and maximum fuel efficiency was reflected by the number of cars registered with less than 130g/km of CO2 emissions. This emission level is the target average limit set by Europe for manufacturers to achieve by 2015 and last year more than half the market (55.4%) met the level or bettered it.

SMMT’s analysis of all new car emissions showed a continued trend in falling CO2 and improving fuel efficiency across the UK. Emissions in 2012 improved 3.6% year-on-year to 133.1g/km CO2 (equivalent to 53.4mpg), down more than 26% since the year 2000.

The SMMT Motorparc data showed that the Isles of Scilly topped the charts for vehicle age with the average car there almost 11 years old, more than three years over the UK average. The Isles of Scilly have just nine miles of roads so, despite the age of the cars there, they are likely to have super-low miles on the clock.

At the light-hearted end of the industry data, Ipswich topped the poll for having the greatest concentration of pink cars, Bolton ticked the most ‘average’ boxes and Kensington and Chelsea drivers were most likely to go topless, having most convertible cars.

Hundreds more facts like these are in SMMT’s 2013 ‘Motor Industry Facts’ book, which can be downloaded from


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