The number of cars on UK roads has fallen for the first time in 64 years, bucking the upward trend which has traced a year-on-year rise in the vehicle parc since the Second World War.

According to SMMT’s analysis this is the first peacetime decline since vehicle records began in 1904.
 
Growth in the UK parc has slowed during recent years and now sits at 31,035,791 cars (as of Dec 31, 2009), representing a 0.7% fall compared to 2008.
 
“The recession is the most obvious factor impacting on the number of cars on the road,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.

“The Scrappage Incentive Scheme has also removed a large number of older and more polluting vehicles. Alongside these economic factors, tough enforcement has helped remove unlicenced vehicles from UK roads.”
 
“Significant advances in technology, higher fuel costs and innovative design are affecting the types of models within the parc, raising the appeal of more fuel-efficient vehicles and making them more accessible to buyers.”
 
The SMMT's analysis of vehicles currently in use reveals an increase in the proportion of low CO2 emitters and an average 1.7% reduction in CO2 emissions across the 2009 parc, compared with 2008.

In the last three years, the number of vehicles which emit less than 120g/km of CO2 has risen by over 90%, and now accounts for 936,117 vehicles on the road.