United Kingdom

Britons are keeping their cars longer than ever, says new report

Motors on the road in Britain are older than ever, a review of Britain's car parc has revealed.

Last year, there were 6.1million cars in Britain over 13 years-old, approximately one-in-five of all vehicles on the road, analysis of DVLA and Department for Transport data shows.

Some 25 years earlier, in 1994, there were only 1.3million cars of a similar age, as motorists hold onto their motors for longer. 

And with a combination of the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing demise of diesel cars, threat of inflated prices following Brexit and an impending ban on new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars within the next two decades, the report expects to see the average age of Britain's vehicles continue to increase.

Britain's ageing car parc: In 2019 there were 6.1m cars in the UK over 13 years old. Some 25 years earlier, just 1.3m motors were older than 13 years - why are we keeping cars for longer?

The analysis was conducted by Retro Motor - a new online resource that celebrates modern classic cars. 

It said that in 1994, 6.3 per cent of cars on the road were over 13 years of age - which works out at approximately one in 20 at the time.

Fast forward 25 years and the percentage of vehicles over this age is 19 per cent. 

The figures come as a surprise, given the introduction of scrappage schemes in the last decade alongside market-led incentives to get people into newer and more environmentally friendly cars.

The arrival of the London ULEZ and plans for Clean Air Zones across the country - penalising those driving older cars with daily charges - would also imply that drivers will be seeking to buy newer vehicles.

Additionally, with the rise in demand for car finance - usually resulting in drivers taking out new finance deals every three years when existing contracts come to an end - you might think the average age of motors on the road would be in decline. 

Thousands of older cars were taken off the road in 2009 as part of the Government's Scrappage Scheme, though average vehicle ages are far higher today than they were before the turn of the century, the analysis shows

But according to the research, the average age of all cars on UK roads has increased from 6.7 years in 1994 to 8.3 years in 2019. 

There were 21.1million cars licensed in 1994, rising to 31.8million in 2019, the report found.

While the volume of older cars on our roads is on the up, it doesn't necessarily mean that cars are less environmentally friendly.

That's because the mileages covered by modern, efficient cars are much higher, according to Retro Motor founder, Richard Aucock. 

'You have to remember that a 13-year old car in 1994 was an early Eighties model with extremely high emissions and no catalytic converters, whereas cars from the mid-2000s were already starting to meet new Euro emissions legislation,' he explained.

'In addition, there's been a huge boom in the popularity of modern classics in recent years, which means that models from the Eighties and Nineties in particular have developed into collectors' items.'

Modern cars are - as well as being much greener than before - far more reliable and less likely to suffer corrosion and rust like vehicles from past generations. 

'Throw into the mix the much-improved build quality of cars from this era and it's easy to see why many of them remain loved and cherished by enthusiasts, rather than just be used as old bangers,' Mr Aucock added.

Retro Motor founder Richard Aucock said some there's been a huge boom in the popularity of modern classics in recent years, which means that models from the Eighties and Nineties in particular have developed into collectors' items

The average age of Britain's cars is set to spiral in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic hammering sales of new and used cars.

Official figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that fewer than 1million new cars have been registered since the start of the year and the end of August, down 40 per cent compared to the 1.5million vehicle sales in the same period a year earlier.

On the second-hand market, transactions are down by half according to the trade body, with just over 1 million used vehicle transactions between January and the end of June this year compared to 2 million in the same six-month period of 2019.

While much of this is linked to the shutdown of dealerships and businesses across the country for two months during the coronavirus outbreak, though a general drop in demand for diesel cars is also having a part to play.

Recent reports that the average price of new cars imported to the UK from 2021 could become ¬£1,500 more expensive on average due to new tariffs imposed if a no-deal Brexit is realised will also sting appetite for new models from next year, along with threats of the imposing ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars being brought forward as early as 2030.  

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