Record new car registrations look set to continue as research shows demand for new cars is still growing.
Almost half of all motorists now plan to replace their existing, compared with less than a third three years ago.
Nearly new cars remain the second most popular choice, but there is a slump in the number of drivers who plan to buy a car older than three years.
These are the findings from a survey of consumers conducted for online motor retail specialist Buyacar.co.uk.
It suggests dealers and manufacturers should brace themselves for a continued surge in new car sales over the coming months.
Earlier this month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported a new record month for new car sales, as the 16-plate drove registrations up to 771,780, a rise of 5.3% on last year.
At the same time, the Finance and Leasing Association released figures showing that the proportion of buyers taking out finance continues to grow, funding 81.9% of private new car sales.
For Buyacar.co.uk’s research, consumers were quizzed on their latest car-buying plans and the results were then compared with a similar study from three years ago.
Since August 2013, when almost 5,000 motorists were first polled, the number planning to buy new has risen from 31.4% to 45.1%.
Nearly-new cars are in second place, with around one in four buyers targeting a car under one year old for their next purchase.
But interest in older cars is slipping fast.
Three years ago 13.6% of consumers said they were planning to buy a two-to-three-year-old car – but that figure has now slumped to 8.1%.
Cars older than three years are even less attractive to consumers. Those planning to buy a three-to-four-year-old car have dwindled from 21.4% in 2013 to 9.6% today.
Buyacar.co.uk customers were not targeted in the research, so the figures are not skewed toward the site’s own new and used car stock age band availability.
There are also strong signals that people intend to buy their next car sooner.
Three years ago 8.6% of motorists said they intended to buy within three-to-six months. Today that figure has risen to 13%.
Austin Collins, who co-founded Buyacar.co.uk as an online marketplace for dealers, said: “We have all grown used to headlines about record registration levels but this research is fascinating in the way it confirms the underlying and ongoing consumer demand for new and nearly-new cars.
“These findings suggest the boom in new car sales is not only set to continue but may even be gathering pace.
“Given the rise and rise in new car sales we have seen in recent years it is particularly remarkable that our research reveals a 43% increase, from 31.4% to 45.1%, in people looking at buying a new car next.
“As all industry commentators agree, the affordability of new cars caused by the introduction of almost irresistible finance packages has been key to the UK’s exceptional market growth.
“But we also think that consumer expectations have now been re-set, perhaps permanently, so that the typical car buyer is now focused more keenly on newer product than ever before.
“We were also struck by the increase from 8.6% to 13% in the proportion of people planning to change their car in the next three-to-six months because that is a remarkable rise of 51%.
“All of these data suggest that the appetite for new and nearly-new cars is still strengthening and that the market has even more room to grow.”