Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Roddy Graham's blog: 15 April 2010 - first vehicle parc decline in 64 years
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Roddy Graham's blog: 15 April 2010 - first vehicle parc decline in 64 years

Date: 15 April 2010

Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo

I never ever thought I would write about a declining UK vehicle parc but the fact is that the number of cars on our UK roads has dropped for the first time in 64 years.

According to the SMMT, this is the first year-on-year decline since the Second World War and the first peacetime decline since vehicle records began in 1904.

The UK car parc at the end of 2009 was 31,035,791 cars, representing a 0.7 per cent decline over 2008.

Most commentators attribute the decline to the recession but the recently closed scrappage incentive scheme (SIS) has played its part too. Plenty of cars, ten years and older, that would otherwise still be chugging around polluting our environment, have been cleared off our roads.

In fact, a total of 372,401 new cars were registered under SIS, accounting for 18.7 per cent of total new car sales during the time it ran between May 2009 and March 2010. The SMMT analysis shows that the average CO2 emissions of vehicles bought under the scheme were 132.9g/km, 27.1 per cent below the average of the vehicles scrapped - estimated to be 182.2g/km.

So the SIS, as well as kick-starting the new car market, did what it said on the tin and removed some high polluting vehicles off our roads. Indeed SIS was so successful in that regard that the CO2 average was even 9.6 per cent lower than the new car market average.

While the UK vehicle parc will no doubt rise again by the end of the year, the fact is that the percentage increases in recent years were getting lower and lower and, with prices at the pumps now at an all-time high, the cost of motoring will undoubtedly come into sharper focus with a direct impact on the number and types of vehicle being operated.

Looking to the future, it was interesting to learn this week that scientists had made a breakthrough in attempts to replicate photosynthesis leading to the prospect of generating unlimited amounts of green energy from water and sunlight.

Genetically modified viruses have apparently been successfully assembled into wire-like structures that are able to use the energy of the sun to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. On a mass scale, there is the potential prospect of unlimited production of hydrogen fuel, a clean source of energy for vehicles.

As electric vehicles come on stream over the coming years, hybrid vehicles become more popular and potential developments in harnessing hydrogen, the reality of alternative-fuelled vehicles will lead to a dramatic change in the size and make-up of the UK vehicle parc.

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