UK Car Review Market Report 2023
“Difficulties for the UK car market continue as the current cost-of-living crisis delays what was expected to be a rapid return to normality after the recent pandemic. Yet despite this,…

UK Car Review Market Report 2023

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The Car Review Market Report 2023 offers comprehensive insights into the UK automotive industry, including UK car market size, segmentation, trends, and projections. Gain valuable analysis on consumer attitudes towards used and new cars to help you stay ahead of competition and respond to changing demands. Uncover the latest developments in the UK car market and their potential impacts on future buyer demands.

UK Car Market Overview

The growing economic difficulties faced by many car owners since late 2021 are having wide-ranging implications for the UK car market. The primary challenge has been the fall in new car sales during 2022 after what had been hopes of a recovery following growth the previous year. Supply shortages and concerns by some about paying a premium for buying new have seen many buyers move into the used sector. While the used aftermarket car sales have benefited from increased demand, similar problems can be found here with rising prices and stock shortages continuing to impact this sector.

UK Car Market Trends & Consumer Behaviours

Mintel’s car market research suggests that there have been significant changes in driving habits post-pandemic. Traditionally important uses for a car such as visiting friends or family, shopping and use for errands have seen many more owners reducing travel for these purposes. While such changes may be temporary, and reflect the current cost of living crisis, it appears that many cars are likely to be used less in the future.

Online continues to be a major sales channel and communication medium for the UK car market. According to Mintel’s car market research, 6.2% of consumers used it to purchase their last car, more than double from 2020. Digital also dominates as the most relied upon source of car information, with nearly half of consumers using it compared to 24% for television.

UK automotive industry statistics

  • UK car market size: New and used car sale volumes fell 7% during 2022 to 8.31 million units.
  • UK car market share: Volkswagen is one of the leading manufacturers in the UK car market, recording 8.1% share of sales in 2022.
  • UK car market challenges: Since the pandemic, 18% of car owners now use their car less to commute.
  • UK car market consumer behaviours: 65% of car owners state that the quality of the car is the most important factor when owning a car.

UK Automotive Industry’s Future Opportunities

Post-pandemic driving habits have resulted in varying levels of travel, impacting car owners’ demands when purchasing a vehicle. The market must consider how to respond to these new UK car market trends, such as whether SUVs will remain popular and what level of investment car owners are willing to make. CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric Cars) innovations may be the future of cars, but if customers are travelling less, it’s uncertain if there will be a market for them or if owners prefer simpler solutions.

The UK car market has an opportunity to harness the digital realm. Digital promotion is especially important to under-25s, wealthier adults, and owners of new cars. Meanwhile, Mintel identifies that women present good opportunities for digital growth due to their low level of car-related interaction. To engage this key demographic, a mix of platforms such as social media, magazines, and streaming services could be utilised.

To discover more about the UK Car Review Market Report 2023, read our UK Hybrid and Electric Cars Market Report 2023, or take a look at our other Automotive Market Research.

Quickly Understand

  • The impact of COVID-19, and more recently the cost of living crisis on the UK car market.
  • UK car market trends in new and used sales, vehicle category and fuel preferences.
  • Key drivers impacting the UK car market and main channels used for purchasing.
  • Explores UK car market size and UK car market share.
  • Examines consumer preferences towards different types of cars, and important factors when choosing a car.

Leading Brands in the UK Automotive Industry

Volkswagen, Ford, Audi, BMW, Toyota, Kia, Vauxhall, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Nissan, Skoda, Peugeot, Volvo, Tesla, MG.

Expert Analysis from a Specialist in the Automotive Sector

This report, written by Neil Mason, a leading analyst in the automotive sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the UK car market and add expert context to the numbers.

Difficulties for the UK car market continue as the current cost-of-living crisis delays what was expected to be a rapid return to normality after the recent pandemic. Yet despite this, demands from car owners continue to evolve. Currently focused on affordability, long-term demands span vehicle flexibility, environmental impact and innovation and illustrate a continuing need to engage with car owners.”

Neil Mason

Neil Mason
Retail Category Director


Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Products covered in this Report
  2. Executive Summary

    • The five-year outlook for the car market
      • Figure 1: Category outlook, 2023-28
    • The market
    • Market size and forecast
      • Figure 2: UK new and used car sales, by volume, 2017-27
    • New cars are set to see better growth prospects
      • Figure 3: Car sales, by new and used, 2022 and 2027
    • Demand for SUVs boosts profile of this category
      • Figure 4: New car registrations, by category, 2017 and 2022
    • Around 6% of car transactions in 2022 were actioned online
      • Figure 5: Where last car was purchased, online options, 2020-22
    • Equal interest in purchasing new and used as affordability and availability pressures impact consumers
      • Figure 6: Likelihood of new or used car purchase in the next three years, 2022
    • Companies and brands
    • Sluggish new car sales result in further fragmentation within the car market
      • Figure 7: Change in manufacturer share of sales (top 10 manufacturers as of 2022), 2020-22
    • Advertising expenditure remains low post-pandemic
      • Figure 8: Percentage media type split of recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure by car manufacturers, 2018-22
    • Premium marques provide higher levels of trust and differentiation
      • Figure 9: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, 2022
    • The consumer
    • Income and wealth are key factors towards owning a car
      • Figure 10: Car ownership, 2022
    • Poor new car sales since the pandemic skew car parc towards older stock
      • Figure 11: Age of car owned, 2022
    • Exploiting opportunities with licence holders offers sales opportunities
      • Figure 12: Other access to cars, 2022
    • Appeal of SUVs to wealthy adults offers an opportunity for OEMs to add value
      • Figure 13: Type of car owned, 2022
    • Demands from older adults offer opportunities for OEMs to add value
      • Figure 14: Importance of factors when owning a car, 2022
    • Younger adults embrace mobility opportunities from using a car
      • Figure 15: Use of a car since the pandemic, 2022
    • Digital continues to grow in importance as a source for information
      • Figure 16: Sources of information, 2021 and 2022
  3. Issues and Insights

    • Cost-of-living crisis focuses on need for affordability
    • Reduced vehicle use may dent recent demand for flexibility
    • Online sales and digital communication continue to flourish
  4. Market Size and Performance

    • Cost-of-living crisis dampens market recovery post-COVID
      • Figure 17: New and used car registrations (United Kingdom), by volume, 2017-22
    • Four in five cars sold in 2022 were used
      • Figure 18: New and used car sales, by volume, 2017 and 2022
    • Battery electric and hybrid cars capture over a third of new car sales in 2022
      • Figure 19: New car sales, by fuel type, 2017 and 2022
  5. Market Forecast

      • Figure 20: Category outlook, 2023-28
    • Recovery of the car market will have to wait
      • Figure 21: Market forecast new and used car sales, by volume, 2017-27
    • New cars will grow to account for just under a quarter of sales in 2027
      • Figure 22: Car sales, by new and used, 2022 and 2027
    • Nearly two thirds of new cars will be AFVs in 2027
      • Figure 23: New car sales, by type (million units), 2022 and 2027
    • Learnings from the last income squeeze
      • Figure 24: New car registrations, by volume, 2007-12
    • Forecast methodology
  6. Market Segmentation

    • Used car sector is the stronger as new and used sectors see a fall in sales
      • Figure 25: New and used car market volumes (UK), million units, 2017-22
    • Expansion in car parc is beginning to slow…
      • Figure 26: Number of licensed cars (Great Britain), million units, 2000-22
    • …with a fall in the number of cars forecast by the end of the decade
      • Figure 27: Car parc (UK) forecast, central scenario, 2020-35
    • Dual-purpose cars remain in vogue with buyers
      • Figure 28: New car registrations, by category, 2017 and 2022
    • Electric and hybrid sector rides out difficulties facing the wider car market…
      • Figure 29: Market size for electric and hybrid cars, 2017-22
    • …to become the main challenger to petrol
      • Figure 30: New car registrations (United Kingdom), % of total, 2017 and 2021
    • 7% of cars are expected to be hybrid or other technologies by 2022
      • Figure 31: Number of licensed cars (United Kingdom), million units, 2017-22
    • Around 45% of licensed cars are now 9 years or older
      • Figure 32: Age structure of the UK car parc in years, 2018-22
    • Fall in multiple car ownership since the pandemic
      • Figure 33: Percentage of households with car availability, England, 2011-21
    • Car ownership is highest in the South
      • Figure 34: Car ownership per household, by region (England), 2002/03 vs 2021
  7. Channels to Market

    • Franchised sector hit by falling new car sales
    • Other routes to market are placing increased pressure on independent dealers
      • Figure 35: Sales of cars, by channel, 2018-22
    • Online represents a notable channel after recent growth
      • Figure 36: Where last car was purchased, online options, 2020-22
    • Around 95% of eBay listings are for petrol and diesel cars
      • Figure 37: Car advertisements in the UK, by fuel type (ebay.co.uk), 2020-23
  8. Market Drivers

    • Inflation is the key concern for consumers and brands…
      • Figure 38: Unleaded and diesel pump prices, 2020-22
    • …and despite government support, energy prices are still a major concern
    • Rising interest rates mean that the pressure will move up to middle- and higher-income households
    • High inflation and rising interest rates will compound the impact of the slowing recovery
    • Consumer spending power will be curbed
    • Unemployment is at a near-50 year low
    • Consumers’ financial wellbeing has fallen from the highs of 2021…
      • Figure 39: Household financial wellbeing index, 2009-22
    • …and most people are feeling the effects of price rises
    • Men are more likely to hold a driving licence
      • Figure 40: Full car driving licence holders, by age and gender, England, 2021
    • Cars preferred mode for journeys more than a mile
      • Figure 41: Mode share of trips, by main mode (different trip lengths), England, 2021
    • Leisure travel up after the pandemic whilst business travel down
      • Figure 42: Miles travelled per person per year, private car *, England, 2019-21
    • Half of households expect to purchase a car in the next three years
      • Figure 43: Intention of purchasing a car/s in the next three years, 2022
    • Plans for purchasing shift from new to used
      • Figure 44: Likelihood or new or used car purchase in the next three years, 2022
    • Growth in number of urban areas set to impose CAZs
  9. Market Share

    • Move towards mass market creates difficulties for some established OEMs
      • Figure 45: Change in manufacturer share of sales (top 10 manufacturers as of 2022), 2020-22
    • European suppliers suffer as buyers look east and west
      • Figure 46: Manufacturer shares of new car registrations, 2018-22
    • Small and dual-purpose cars lead in terms of popularity
      • Figure 47: Top 10 new car models, 2018-22
    • Ford and Vauxhall models dominate the used car market
      • Figure 48: Top 10 used car models, 2018-22
  10. Advertising and Marketing Activity

    • Advertising spend remains subdued post-pandemic
      • Figure 49: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure by car manufacturers, 2018-22
    • Electric and hybrid cars are increasingly the focus of investment
      • Figure 50: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure, by type of car, 2018-22
    • Most manufacturers reduce investment between 2021 and 2022
      • Figure 51: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure, by leading car manufacturers, 2018-22
    • TV continues to be the most popular choice for advertisers
      • Figure 52: Percentage media type split of recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure by car manufacturers, 2020-22
    • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
  11. Brand Research

    • German premium brands record best balance of differentiation and trust
      • Figure 53: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, 2022
    • Key brand metrics
      • Figure 54: Key metrics for selected brands, 2022
    • Brand attitudes: desire to be premium presents a crowded market
      • Figure 55: Attitudes, by brand, 2022
    • Brand personality: clear positioning evident for individual brands
      • Figure 56: Brand personality – Macro image, 2022
    • Brand personality: VW and Volvo seen as durable, Tesla as cutting edge
      • Figure 57: Brand personality – Micro image, 2022
  12. Car Ownership

    • 72% of adults are car owners
      • Figure 58: Car ownership, 2022
    • Income and wealth have a major impact on car ownership
    • Car ownership falls post-pandemic
      • Figure 59: Car ownership, 2019-22
  13. Age of Car Owned

    • Pre-pandemic purchases dominate the market
      • Figure 60: Age of car owned, 2022
    • Men prefer owning a car purchased new
    • Older women present an opportunity for used cars
    • Cities important for new car purchases
    • Wealth has a major influence on new or used
    • Older adults remain focused on owning older cars
    • Fall in profile of new car sales as older, used vehicles strengthen profile
      • Figure 61: Age of car owned, 2019-22
  14. Other Access to Cars

    • Most non-car owners don’t have a driving licence
      • Figure 62: Other access to cars, 2022
    • Young adults most likely to not hold a driving licence…
    • …as are the less wealthy
    • Exploiting income to encourage car ownership
  15. Type of Vehicle Owned

    • Over half of cars are classed as small or medium
      • Figure 63: Type of car owned, 2022
    • Young adults want it all
    • SUVs have strong appeal with wealthier adults
    • Presence of younger children boosts interest towards larger-format cars
    • Small gives way to large and more versatile
      • Figure 64: Type of car owned, 2019- 22
  16. Importance of Factors in Owning a Car

    • Quality and value for money are the key demands
      • Figure 65: Importance of factors when owning a car, 2022
    • Older adults major on price and quality demands
    • Wealthy buyers offer a platform for innovation
    • Price and value are important for owners of older cars…
    • …as well as those owning small and compact cars
    • Rising economic pressures have shifted demands towards price and quality
      • Figure 66: Importance of factors when owning a car, 2021 and 2022
  17. Recent Changes in Use of Car

    • Commuting and the ‘school run’ dominate increased car use
      • Figure 67: Recent changes in use of car, 2022
    • Travel by women is down…
    • …as younger adults use their cars more
    • Interest from urban car owners grows
    • New car owners see increased use of their vehicles…
    • …with those with the smallest cars especially likely to use them more
  18. Sources of Information

    • Digital dominates when it comes to information
      • Figure 68: Sources of information, 2022
    • Under-25s rely on a variety of channels
    • Cities present outdoor opportunities
    • Digital and printed popular with wealthier individuals
    • Overcoming a lack of interest amongst women
    • New car buyers and innovators are more engaged with advertisers
    • Owners of larger cars can be targeted differently
    • Interest in visual media down post-pandemic with the exception of digital
      • Figure 69: Sources of information, 2021 and 2022
  19. Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

    • Data sources
    • Exclusions
    • Abbreviations
    • Consumer research methodology
  20. Appendix – Forecast Methodology

    • Market forecast and prediction intervals
      • Figure 70: Market forecast and prediction intervals for cars (million units), 2022-27
    • Market drivers and assumptions
    • Forecast methodology

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our databooks* are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

*databooks not available with UK B2B Industry reports.

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