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UK car market growth is great for number plates

Continued growth in UK car market

October 2023 saw the UK new car market grow by 14.3%. That's 7.2% higher than pre-Covid pandemic figures, the biggest October increase since 2018 and the 15th consecutive month of growth.

Clean machines

With October 2023 also being the warmest on record, a great deal of attention remains focused on the issues of automotive emissions, pollution and climate change, so it is encouraging to note that registrations of new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased for the 42nd consecutive month, growing by 20.1%. Figures for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) increased by 24.6% and 60.5% respectively.

Who's buying?

Across the whole automotive sector (all fuel-types), private sales remained steady, increasing by just 0.3% compared to a 28.8% growth in large fleet sales. Demand from businesses, on the other hand, actually fell by 15.2%.

As with the sector in general, the growth in registrations of new electric and hybrid vehicles was mostly driven by fleet purchases. This suggests that the government really does need to take another look at charging point availability as well as incentives and subsidies that could speed up the transition away from petroleum. Electric vehicles remain more expensive than equivalent petrol and diesel models, and thus beyond the financial means of many drivers who would otherwise be eager to switch.

At a glance

The following tables show automotive market growth for October 2023 and for the whole year to date. Last year's figures are included for comparison.

(Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)

  2023 2022 Change (%) 2023 market share (%) 2022 market share (%)
Diesel 5,261 6,347 -17.1% 3.4% 4.7%
Petrol 62,303 56,993 9.3% 40.6% 42.4%
MHEV diesel 6,015 5,446 10% 3.9% 4.1%
MHEV petrol 22,148 20,993 5.5% 14.4% 15.6%
BEV 22,943 19,933 20.1% 15.6% 14.8%
PHEV 14,285 8,900 60.5% 9.3% 6.6%
HEV 19,574 15,712 24.6% 12.7% 11.7%
TOTALS 153,529 134,344 14.5%    
Year to date
  Year to date 2023 Year to date 2022 Change (%) 2023 market share 2022 market share
Diesel 61,947 73,370 -15.6% 3.9% 5.5%
Petrol 658,249 582,792 12.9% 41% 43.4%
MHEV diesel 60,264 61,524 -2% 3.8% 4.6%
MHEV petrol 247,082 188,479 31.1% 15.4% 14%
BEV 262,487 195,547 34.2% 16.3% 14.6%
PHEV 113,278 82,861 36.7% 7.1% 6.2%
HEV 202,130 158,139 27.8% 12.6% 11.8%
TOTALS 1,605,437 1,342,712 19.6%    

The abbreviations:

  • BEV or "battery electric vehicle" means a fully electric vehicle that is recharged by plugging into a recharging point.

  • HEV or "hybrid electric vehicle". This is a hybrid vehicle with a battery that is recharged by the action of the engine and braking system. The electric motor is powerful enough to drive the car for limited distances.

  • MHEV or "mild hybrid electric vehicle". This is a vehicle where the battery doesn't power the engine alone, but assists the internal combustion engine. The battery is charged by the action of the engine and does not plug in to recharge.

  • PHEV or "plug-in hybrid electric vehicle". The battery on a plug-in hybrid is more powerful than that on an HEV or MHEV. It is sufficient to power the vehicle for about (usually) 60-100km (about 35-60 miles) on electric power alone. The vehicle is recharged by plugging it in.

Good news for number plates fans

Anything that means more cars on the road is good news for number plate dealers and enthusiasts as, obviously, the more cars on the road, the more number plates are needed to identify them. That said, we are acutely aware of the damage done by emissions from petroleum-burning engines so we are glad to see greener technologies gaining market share despite the many obstacles still to be faced on the road to completely zero-emissions driving.

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The role of DVLA

Car registrations and number plates, including personalised number plates, in the UK, are the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, usually known as the DVLA. It issues new registrations twice a year and also maintains the central database that records details of all vehicles licensed to drive on UK roads, along with their keeper and registration information.

Regtransfers works closely with DVLA to complete registration transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Regtransfers is a DVLA-registered supplier of personal car registrations and number plates and is listed on the DVLA Registrations website. All number plates supplied by Regtransfers comply with DVLA's prescribed standards and regulations.

DVLA administers all UK registration transfers and issues updated registration documents when the registration number of a car is changed, or when a registration is removed from a vehicle and placed on a retention document in accordance with the DVLA Retention Scheme.

DVLA is a registered trade mark of the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. Regtransfers is not affiliated with the DVLA or DVLA Personalised Registrations. Regtransfers is a recognised reseller of unissued Government stock.

Number plate regulations

When a car is on the road, it is an offence to display number plates bearing any number other than the vehicle's officially recorded registration number. If you purchase a private registration, learn how to transfer private plates before displaying the new number.

All registration number plates displayed on UK vehicles must comply with the official number plate regulations. DVLA oversees enforcement of number plates display regulations and maintains a register of approved manufacturers and retailers of vehicle number plates.

Regtransfers is not part of, and is not formally affiliated with DVLA.

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