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Recession Changing the Face of UK Motoring

30th July 2012

In the midst of a global economic crisis, many industries have experienced enforced changes to their very nature. Often, those changes are difficult to accurately demonstrate, with conclusive evidence. However, a recent study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has clearly demonstrated, perhaps for the first time, the full extent of the impact that the recession has had on the UK motoring industry.

Perhaps the most obvious impact is the fact that people are buying new cars less frequently. As a result, owners are keeping their cars for longer than before and the average age of cars on UK roads is increasing. According to the SMMT study, the average car in the UK is now 7.44 years (or 89 months) old. This means that, on average, cars in the UK are two months older than they were the previous year.

As well as the average age of cars increasing, road users have also been increasingly concerned with fuel prices. Fuel-efficiency has become a significantly more important factor to consider when choosing a car and, as a result, diesel cars are now more popular than ever before, holding over 50% of the market. That record high is counter-balanced by the fact that there are now less petrol cars on the road than in any year since 1988.

However, there is positive news for the motoring industry in that the recession does not appear to be turning people away from buying cars. Despite the financial hardship being experienced by many families, the total number of cars on UK roads has risen to 31,362,716; an increase of 0.3%.

Furthermore, those who have been lucky enough to be able to afford a new car have reported a 20% improvement in fuel efficiency in new cars when compared to the total UK average, meaning that, in the long run, upgrading can actually save money.

The study also named the top 5 most popular car models in the UK as: 1) Ford Focus 2) Ford Fiesta 3) Vauxhall Astra 4) Volkswagen Golf.

So, while the recession has impacted upon the UK motoring industry in the form of used cars, the industry can look towards two main positives. Firstly, the number of cars on the road continues to increase, in spite of the recession and secondly, upgrading can be demonstrably proven to improve fuel efficiency in the long-term, promising a reasonably bright future for the new cars market.