The number of new car derivatives has quadrupled in the past five years, from 1,083 during 2009 to 4,403 last year, said to be leading to "large increases" in new car prices.
Half-way through 2014 the number of new derivatives added to CAP Automotive’s database stood at more than 2,500.
CAP’s database also reveals that more than 800 different derivatives of medium family car have been launched to the market so far this year.
But it is in the small ‘runabout’ city car sector where choice is really exploding, with twice as many new car derivatives introduced so far in 2014 than during the whole of last year.
The sheer range of new car types available today is also revealed by large increases in average new car prices – reflecting the introduction of luxurious versions, even among the smallest types of car.
In January 2009 the average new list price of a city car was £8,225. By July this year that figure had risen to £10,400.
The average new list price for a supermini rose from £10,770 to £12,783 over the same period.
CAP’s head of new vehicle data Colin Whelan, said: “What is happening in the new car market today is the rapid growth in personalisation – the ability for motorists to make much more individual choices of car to suit them.
“There is also a strong focus on the smaller car end of the market, where some of the widest selection of choices can now be found.
“It used to be that if you wanted one of the typical prestige brand badges on your car, there was little choice but to go for a larger hatchback or saloon. But now every manufacturer is playing in every car segment.
“This is reflected by the large increases in average new price for smaller cars, as prestige manufacturers step in to satisfy the need many motorists have to drive a small economical runabout that features a badge they want to show off to their neigbours with.
“The growth in the number of derivatives – even though the number of overall model brand names is not increasing – demonstrates how manufacturers are meeting consumers’ desires to own a car that isn’t identical to their neighbour’s.
“It all amounts to an increasingly complex market for consumers and dealers alike. But as a way of appealing to the desires of consumers to stand out from the crowd, the proliferation of new car derivatives is proving a highly successful strategy for manufacturers.”
For medium size family cars – the lower medium sector – average new prices increased from £16,360 in January 2009 to £19,124 by July 2014.
Average price increases have been proportionately less for larger car types, more typically reflecting underlying price inflation for new cars, rather than the introduction of more luxurious versions.
For example, MPVs look set to see one of the smallest increases in choice this year, with just 127 new derivatives introduced by July 2014, compared with 364 during the course of 2013.
Again this is reflected in the relatively smaller average price change from £17,741 to £19,757 over the past five years.
And in a real sign of the times, the luxury executive car sector saw just two new derivatives introduced during the first six months of 2014 – and average prices have reduced since January 2009 from £216,879 to £208,707 in June this year.