The number of cars on UK roads has fallen for the first time in 64 years, according to research by the Society of

Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said this was "bucking the upward trend which has traced a year-on-year rise in the vehicle parc since the Second World War". It added that this was the first peacetime decline since vehicle records began in 1904.

It stated that growth in the UK parc had slowed during recent years and now sat at 31,035,791 cars, representing a 0.7% fall compared to 2008.

"The recession is the most obvious factor impacting on the number of cars on the road," said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt. "The Scrappage Incentive Scheme has also removed a large number of older and more polluting vehicles. Alongside these economic factors, tough enforcement has helped remove unlicenced vehicles from UK roads.

"Significant advances in technology, higher fuel costs and innovative design are affecting the types of models within the parc, raising the appeal of more fuel-efficient vehicles and making them more accessible to buyers."

In terms of choice, silver cars continued to be the most popular amongst consumers, topping the colour charts for the second consecutive year after knocking blue off the top spot. Blue and black cars now follow closely behind in the rankings, with red falling out of favour in fourth position.