Female car ownership is now at record levels, hitting 11.8 million in 2017 and accounting for more than one third of the UK's cars. The analysis, by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, shows that the number of cars registered to women has surged by more than a fifth since 2007. This compared with a 10% increase in the number of men buying one in the same period.
Around 17.8 million cars were registered to men in 2017, and there are now 34.7 million cars on UK roads in total, up 12% across the past ten years. Meanwhile, drivers are benefiting from more technology than ever before. Although manual gearboxes still dominate, the number of automatic models has risen by 70% since 2007, with some 8.4 million now on the road.
Around 40% of all new cars registered in 2017 featured an automatic gearbox, double the proportion in 2007, with consumer attracted to the comfort and driving simplicity inherent in the technology. The data also illustrates the diversity of car ownership, with some 1,500 model ranges and 65,000 different model specifications on the road, compared with 1,200 and 56,000 respectively ten years ago.
More than a fifth (22.5%) of cars on the road were less than three years old in 2017, helping to improve air quality and CO2 emissions with the latest low emission technology. Smaller models continue to make up the bulk of the UK's car parc - mini, supermini and lower medium together accounted for a 62.3% market share, up from 60% in 2007. Across all car segments, however, the most dramatic shift has been in the rise of dual purpose cars.
Their number has increased more than 90% in the past decade with some 3.5 million on the road in 2017, representing a 10.2% market share compared to 6.1% in 2007. Conversely, upper medium models have seen the largest fall in popularity, declining by 27.0% - equivalent to roughly 1.5 million cars.
In terms of colour preferences, the trend to monochrome has seen brighter shades fall out of favour. In 2017, silver/aluminium was the most commonly seen colour on the road, followed by black and then blue. But in 2007, blue was the top choice, followed by silver/aluminium and red - a colour that has now fallen out of the top five completely, along with green.
'Consumers are enjoying greater freedom and mobility than ever before, which along with greater reliability and improved fuel efficiency make owning a car a more attractive and affordable option for million of people' the SMMT's Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.
'With every new model launched, more motorists are benefitting from more advanced technology. From innovative safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking and adaptive speed control, to state of the art infotainment and comfort features, including heads up navigation, heated seats and air con, in car WIFI and greater connectivity'.