Car market statistics – UK sales & registrations 2023-2011

Last updated April 27th, 2023

Whether you’re a car manufacturer, seller, journalist or consumer, making sense of trends and statistics within the used car market can help you make informed decisions.

To make this easier, we’ve curated the latest key statistics and commentary on used car sales and registrations in the UK.

This resource also includes statistics and commentary on the state of the new car market in 2023, including comparative data from 2022 and previous years.

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Key used car sales stats (updated)

In 2022, second-hand car sales in the UK fell by 8.5% from the previous year, with a total of 6,890,777 units sold. This can be attributed to lingering supply chain issues in the wake of COVID.

However, despite an overall decline, there are several promising signs:

  • The decline over Q4 from the same period in 2021 was just 4.3%.
  • 0.8% growth was reported in December. This hints at a rebound for the used car market in Q1 of 2023, as a recovering new car market continues to add new stock.
  • In 2022, demand for used electric vehicles reached a record high.
  • Sales for used full/battery electric vehicles (or BEVs) grew by 37.5%, hybrid electric vehicles ( HEVs) by 8.6% - and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by 3.6% compared to 2021.
  • Electric cars provide consumers with numerous benefits, including lower emissions and running costs, eligibility for government grants - and avoiding fees when in travelling ULEZ and Congestion Charge Zones.

Source: SMMT

UK used car sales statistics (2022-2014)

Despite high levels of consumer demand, just 6,890,777 used cars were sold in the UK in 2022. This figure falls short of 2019’s pre-pandemic total by 13.2%

Year Number of car sales
2022 6,890,777
2021 7,530,956
2020 6,752,959
2019 7,935,105
2018 7,945,040
2017 8,113,020
2016 8,200,000
2015 7,640,015
2014 7,433,129

This drop in sales can be partly attributed to global pandemic-related parts shortages that have stifled new car manufacturing and reduced the levels of stock entering the second-hand market.

cost-of-living crisis and high fuel prices also made many consumers reluctant to commit to long-term car finance agreements.

A recent study by a leading automotive magazine and website revealed that 32% of car owners were less likely to replace their car with another vehicle on a three-year lease than in the previous year.

The same study also revealed that 34.5% of motorists had held on to their vehicle for longer than intended – and 65.8% claimed their ownership continued for over six months longer than originally planned.

Source: SMMT, What Car?

UK used car sales statistics by fuel type (2022)

In 2022, used sales for both petrol and diesel cars fell by 7.73% and 11.67% respectively from the previous year. This can in part be attributed to the unprecedented price increases for both petrol and diesel fuel in 2022, which peaked in the summer.

Increased running costs for traditionally fuelled vehicles has led many drivers to go further than seeking the cheapest local fuel prices - and make the switch from a petrol or diesel car to an electric vehicle.

Despite having higher upfront prices than their combustion engine rivals, low charging costs have made electric vehicles an attractive prospect for many consumers.

Used fully electric car sales saw the biggest annual growth (76.67%), followed by hybrid cars (15.15%). Plug-in hybrids sales also increased but only by a modest 1.73%.

No. of sales



YoY Change

YoY Change %





















Plug-in Hybrid





Source: SMMT

Insights from the UK’s used car market in 2023

Petrol and diesel cars

  • On 1st March 2023, the average price of diesel on UK forecourts was 168.44p per litre – 20.54p more than unleaded petrol.
  • Diesel cars remain the most expensive to run – and this is likely to persuade more used car buyers to opt for more economical alternatives.

Source: FleetNews



Whilst hybrids remained the bestselling type of EV among used car buyers in 2022, it was fully electric cars that gained the most momentum.

  • The average price of a used electric vehicle fell by 15.3% between October 1st 2022 and January 31st 2023 – and as a result, demand for electric vehicles has increased.
  • In January, Tesla cut the prices of its popular Model 3 and Model Y electric cars by up to £8,000, a saving that in time should also be passed on to second-hand electric buyers.
  • From December 2022 to January 2023, the average used EV value fell by 2.1% to £36,179.

Sources: SMMT, Fleet News, Fleetworld


Key new car sales stats (updated)

  • The Nissan Qashqai was the bestselling car model in the UK during 2022, with a total of 42,704 registrations.
  • December was a record month for new car sales, with around 128,000 registrations across all fuel types – although this was not enough to offset the decline in the first half of the year.
  • In December, fully-electric cars claimed their largest monthly market share to date – and sales overtook diesel vehicles for the first time.
  • In 2022, fleet and business buyers accounted for around two-thirds (66.7%) of all battery electric vehicle registrations.

Source: SMMT

UK new car sales statistics 2023

According to SMMT data, new car sales in January and February 2023 were much stronger than over this period in 2022.

February 2023 also marked the seventh consecutive month of growth for the UK’s new car market.

Jan/Feb 2023 Jan/Feb 2022 % change
206,435 174,081 18.60%

Source: SMMT

UK new car statistics (2022 to 2011)

In 2022, a total of 1.61 million new cars were registered in the UK. This figure is the lowest since 1992, even falling short of those recorded in 2020 and 2021, when the UK was significantly affected by COVID restrictions, automotive supply chain issues and an ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage.

Despite this lull, in 2022, the UK reclaimed its spot as the second-largest automotive market in Europe.

Rising numbers of car registrations in the last five months of the year signalled an improvement. Market growth worth £8.4bn is predicted for 2023.

Source: SMMT, Supply Chain Digital

Year Number of car registrations
2021 1,647,181
2020 1,632,064
2019 2,311,140
2018 2,367,147
2017 2,540,617
2016 2,692,786
2015 2,633,503
2014 2,476,435
2013 2,264,737
2012 2,044,609
2011 1,941,253

Source: SMMT

Insights from the UK’s new car market in 2023

  • The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have predicted that 2023 will be a ‘year of recovery’ for the automotive industry. Reducing waiting times for consumers in the face of an economic downturn will be a key challenge for manufacturers.
  • A total of 74,441 new cars were registered in February 2023 – the seventh consecutive month of growth for new car sales in the UK.

Source: SMMT


Petrol and diesel cars

    • According to the latest data, petrol remains the dominant fuel type among UK car buyers - 42,378 petrol cars (including mild-hybrids) were sold in February 2023 – a 35.8% increase from February the previous year.
    • Diesel sales have continued to fall; 5,433 diesel cars (including mild-hybrids) were sold in February 2023 – a 6.4% drop from February the previous year.
    • Whilst petrol is set to maintain its lead for the immediate future, the UK’s ICE ban, which will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is due to be implemented in 2030. It is expected that this looming ban will further curb the market share of both petrol and diesel cars in the interim.

Source: SMMT



    • The SMMT also reports that ‘charging anxiety’ remains a barrier for some prospective electric car buyers.
    • Improving public charging infrastructure will be key in encouraging mass EV adoption.
    • The UK Government has forecast that 300,000 publicly available electric chargers will be required by 2030, when the ICE ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will come into effect.
    • In 2022, British companies installed record numbers of public electric charges, taking the current number available to over 37,000.)
    • The number of publicly available ultra-rapid charging devices has increased by 77% since January 2022.
    • However, to meet the Government target of 300,000 public chargers by 2030, 100 new chargers would have to be installed every day. SMMT data places the current rate at around 23 per day.
    • Providers currently leading the efforts include evyve, who plan to install 10,000 chargers by 2030 – and ubitricity, who are working to treble Liverpool’s charging network.

Source: SMMT, Zap-Map

How many cars are there in the UK?

As of September 2022, there were 33.2 million licenced cars in the UK, accounting for 81.3% of all vehicles on the roads.

Source: RAC Foundation

How many new cars were sold in the UK in 2022?

In 2022, a total of 1,614,063 new cars were registered in the UK.

Source: SMMT

What is the most popular car brand in the UK? (2022)

In 2022, Volkswagen was the bestselling car brand in the UK for the second year running, with 131,850 units sold. However, the German automotive giant did lose market share; sales fell by 10.8% from last year.

Ford was the next highest seller with 126,826 units sold, overtaking both Audi and BMW from the previous year.

Source: SMMT

Most popular car model in the UK? (2022)

The bestselling car in the UK in 2022 was the Nissan Qashqai, with a total of 42,704 registrations. Its high build quality, impressive tech, spacious cabin – and modest starting price have made the Qashqai a hit with the car-buying public.

Source: SMMT

Which car model will be the UK’s bestseller in 2023?

According to the most recent SMMT data, the Vauxhall Corsa is the current leader for UK new car sales in 2023, with 5,243 units sold across January and February 2023.

Source: SMMT