The number of cars on UK roads has increased 12% over the past 10 years, reaching 34.7 million in 2017, according to new research released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The new Motorparc data shows that female car ownership is now at record levels, hitting 11.8 million in 2017, and that the number of cars registered to women has surged by more than a fifth (21%) since 2007, with women now owning more than a third of the UK’s cars.

This compares with a 10% increase in the number of men purchasing one in the same period, with 17.8m cars registered to men in 2017.

Although manual gearboxes still dominate, the number of automatic models has risen 70.5% since 2007, with 8.4 million now on the road, and in 2017 40.0% of all new cars featured an automatic gearbox.

SMMT said more than a fifth (22.5%) of cars on UK roads were less than three years old in 2017, helping improve air quality and CO2 emissions with the latest low emission technology.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “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 millions of people. 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.

“This latest Motorparc analysis shows the shifts in consumer preferences and behaviour over the past decade and provides insight for car makers and dealers to help them adapt to changing consumer behaviour in the future.”