Almost half of car buyers, 49%, are not interested in autonomous cars, according to Auto Trader’s market report.

The survey of 5,500 UK motorists found that 44% of 17-44 year olds did not expect driverless technology to be available in their lifetimes, despite industry estimates indicating fully-autonomous cars could be on roads by 2030.

Auto Trader found significant lack of knowledge about autonomous cars, with just 21% of motorists understanding what a fully-autonomous vehicle was.

In addition, 49% of those uninterested in driverless cars said they knew too little to be able to express their level of interest.

The threat of the loss of the driving experience was also a factor, with 33% claiming that ‘enjoyment of driving’ was a main motivation for car ownership.

The overwhelming majority of drivers, 73%, said independence was their primary reason for car ownership, and 81% of all car owners expected to continue to own cars for life.

Auto Trader’s operations director, Nathan Coe, said: “Even in a world of fully-autonomous vehicles, consumers still see car ownership as central to their future driving.

“Today’s successful dealers are those that embrace change, and whilst the car buying process and the cars consumers buy will undoubtedly evolve, the fundamentals will remain true.”

Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) gained in popularity, with Auto Trader recording a 58% increase in searched for electric cars, and a rise of 52% for hybrids. Searches for diesel vehicles fell by 14%, as car sales of diesel fell 6.8% year on year in December 2016.

The report found that of the 51% who showed an interest in autonomous cars, Ford was ranked most highly out of the 15 companies that had publicly revealed their driverless programmes.

Tesla, which has had its autonomous exploits well documented, was ranked joint third with Mercedes, with 92% highlighting ‘technical expertise’ as the decisive factor.

Google pipped past Apple to be the highest ranking tech company, finishing ninth out of 15, while Apple came tenth, above Volvo and Hyundai, with 97% expressing positive thoughts about the technology that could be in an Apple car.