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Vehicle Licensing Statistics

This Statistical Release presents information on motor vehicles that were licensed, or were subject to a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN), in Great Britain during 2010.

The statistics are derived from data held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which administers vehicle registration and licensing records in Great Britain.

These data include revisions that have been made to previously-published statistics on the total licensed vehicle between 2006 and 2010.

1. Licensed vehicle stock



• At the end of 2010 there were 34.1 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Great Britain, of which 28.4 million were cars. Since 1994, the number of licensed cars in Great Britain has increased by 34 per cent. Over the same period the number of light good vehicles and motorcycles have increased by 50 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.

• However, while the number of licensed cars and light vans increased from 2009 to 2010, the number of motorcycles decreased by 3.2 per cent and the number of both heavy goods vehicles and buses & coaches decreased by 1.5 per cent.

Licensed vehicles by body type: Great Britain, 1994 to 2010



• It is estimated that there were roughly 9.5 million transfers of ownership of previously-licensed vehicles during 2010 (mostly second-hand vehicle sales).
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• For cars licensed after 2001 and with a known CO2 emission value, the greatest proportion (22 per cent) were in VED Band G (151 g/km to 165 g/km of CO2) at the end of 2010. The number in VED Band A (under 100 g/km of CO2) more than doubled between 2009 and 2010.

• The average engine size of all licensed cars in 2010 remained at 1,750 cc, as it has been since 2008. This suggests that the previous long-term rising trend has stabilised. Between 2007 and 2009 the average engine size of new cars fell sharply, but rose slightly to 1,702 cc in 2010.

• At the end of 2010, 15 per cent of all licensed cars were manufactured by Ford and 12 per by Vauxhall. These figures were unchanged from 2009. Five manufacturers (Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Peugeot and Renault) account for almost 50% of all licensed cars in Great Britain.


2. New vehicle registrations



• A total of 2.4 million vehicles were registered for the first time in Great Britain in 2010. This represents a 47 thousand vehicle increase, or 2 per cent, from the previous year. However, new vehicle registrations appear to be on a general downward trend from a peak in the early-2000s. Much of the decrease in new registrations from 2007 will have been as a result of the recession and the ongoing economic climate.

Vehicles registered for the first time in Great Britain: 1980 to 2010


• Most of the increase between 2009 and 2010 in new registrations were for cars (1.4 per cent), but the numbers of newly-registered light vans, heavy goods vehicles and buses & coaches all decreased for the second year running. New registrations of heavy goods vehicles are on an established downward trend and were almost 48 per cent lower in 2010 than in 2003.

• Almost 395.5 thousand new cars and vans were bought under the Vehicle Scrappage Scheme between May 2009, when the scheme opened, and April 2010, when it ceased. This would have helped increase the overall 2010 volume but number of new registrations later in the year fell below the 2009 levels again.

• The number of newly registered cars powered by diesel has continued to rise. About 46 per cent of newly licensed cars in 2010 ran on diesel, up from 41 per cent in 2009. In addition, the number of newly registered hybrid electric cars passed 20 thousand for the first time, and a total of 135 thousand licensed cars used an alternative fuel to petrol or diesel by the end of the year, a figure that has increased roughly seven-fold in 10 years.

Average CO2 emissions of licensed and newly registered cars: 2001 to 2010



• Average CO2 emissions from cars continued to fall in 2010. Average emissions from all the licensed cars first registered from 2001 onwards was down by 1.4 per cent to an average of 165 g/km. The average CO2 emissions from cars newly registered in the year fell by nearly 4 per cent between 2009 and 2010 to an average figure of 144 g/km. Since 2001 the average emissions of new cars has fallen by over 18 per cent.

• For the second year running, the Ford Fiesta has been the most popular new registration with almost 102 thousand new cars registered during 2010. This is down from the 114 thousand new registrations in 2009. The Ford Focus, which was the most popular new car from 2001 to 2008, fell to third place behind the Vauxhall Astra.

• The top five car manufacturers in terms of new registrations (Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, BMW and Peugeot) accounted for 45 per cent of the new car registrations in 2010. This is similar to 2009 except that Toyota was in the top five instead of BMW.

Statistical Revisions


1. What has been revised?


• A number of vehicles which were initially described as ‘licensed’ have been reallocated to the ‘SORN’ (Statutory Off Road Notice) category.

• In the Department for Transport’s definition of the vehicle parc, SORN vehicles are counted as unlicensed.

2. Why has this revision happened?

• In some cases it is not clear whether a vehicle is licensed or not on the last day of the quarter. In these cases the Department makes its best estimate of the vehicles’ licensing statuses by looking at the dates and status of both the current and previous licence period.

• In these specific cases, new evidence shows that the vehicles which were initially allocated a ‘licensed’ status should have been allocated a ‘SORN’ status instead.

3. What period of time do these revisions cover?

• The licensed vehicle data have been revised from quarter 1 2006 up to quarter 2 2010. Prior to 2006 the unclear vehicles were treated slightly different and only a very small number were misallocated.

• The quarter 3 2010 figures are correct from first publication on the 9th December 2010.

4. How has this affected the licensed vehicles statistics?

• The revisions have had a net effect of reducing the licensed vehicle stock figures by about 260 thousand to 300 thousand vehicles a quarter (about 0.8 per cent).

• The revisions have had a more significant effect on the ‘heavy goods vehicles’ category and ‘buses & coaches’ category, reducing them by about 3.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

• The number of SORN vehicles as presented in Table 2 of Vehicle Licensing Statistics 2009 will increase by the same amount. For instance, the number of SORN vehicles in 2009 should stand at 2.1 million rather than the published 1.8 million.

5. Do these revisions have any effect on the new registration statistics?

• No. New registration statistics are not based on license status so the new registration tables do not need to be revised.

6. Which tables have been revised?

• The quarterly table VEH0101 (Motor vehicles licensed by body type) has been revised from 2006 to quarter 2 2010.

• Tables VEH0301, VEH0302, VEH0303 and VEH0305 which were released as part of the Motorcycling Statistics 2010 publication in December contain the new, revised figures.

• All other licensed vehicle tables as presented in Vehicle Licensing Statistics 2009 have not yet been revised. These will be corrected and updated in April 2011. In the meantime


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