The Department for Transport recently published the latest version of its annual compendium of statistics: Transport Statistics Great Britain 2017. Within its 203 data tables can be found some fascinating insights into the trends that underpin the automotive industry in Britain today – if you know where to look. Fortunately, we do, so we’ve picked out highlights to save you the trouble of trawling through those tables yourself.
1. A new record for distance travelled
In 2016, 801 billion passenger kilometres were travelled in Britain – a 1.2% increase on 2015 and higher than the previous record of 792 billion km recorded back in 2007. As our graph shows, the vast majority of those kilometres were covered on the road: 89% to be precise. 10% of kilometres travelled were by rail, with the remaining 1% by air.
2. Roads take 78% of freight transport
Roads are also the primary method for transporting goods around the country. The graph above shows the number of ‘tonne kilometres’ moved, which is derived by multiplying the weight of cargo by the distance travelled. If a lorry carries 1 tonne of goods for 1 km, that’s 1 tonne kilometre; if it carries 5 tonnes for 2 km, that’s 10 tonne kilometres. A total of 218 billion tonne kilometres were moved by road, rail and water in 2016, and 78% of that was done by road – the highest proportion on record.
3. 37.8 million vehicles, and rising
By the end of June, there were a total of 37.8 million licensed vehicles on Britain’s roads: 31.2 million cars, 3.9 million vans, 0.5 million lorries and 2.2 million others (motor cycles, buses, etc.). That represents a 1.9% increase over 12 months, and means there are more vehicles on the road than ever.
4. Ultra-low emission vehicles break 100,000
As we’ve noted before on this blog, alternatively-fuelled vehicles are rapidly gaining popularity. The graph above shows how the number of ultra-low emission vehicles (those with carbon dioxide emissions of less than 75g/km) has soared since 2014. The total surpassed 100,000 in the first quarter of 2017, and stood at 118,935 by the end of June. The vast majority of these are pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
5. Internal Combustion Engines are getting ever more efficient
It’s not just the rise of electric vehicles that’s making vehicles cleaner, though. Petrol and diesel cars have become much more fuel efficient over the past decade, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution while also cutting fuel costs for motorists. The average new petrol car in 2016 could travel 36% further on the same amount of fuel than the equivalent car registered in 2006. For diesel, that number is 38%.