A surge in vehicle registrations is being seen as another sign the economy is bouncing back from the global financial crisis.
Figures from the Motor Industry Association show registrations of new vehicles in 2013 were the highest since 1984.
Last year, 208,263 new and imported passenger and commercial vehicles were registered. That was 14% more than in 2012, which in turn had shown a significant gain after a fall in registrations in 2011.
Motor Trade Association marketing manager Ian Stronach said buyers are more confident. "They see better conditions ahead so their ability to pay off their vehicles or for it to earn a return for their business is better than it was maybe a couple of years ago."
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the figures for 2013 are one of many indicators pointing to an economy getting back on its feet.
"What we've seen is a gradual lift in consumer confidence, we've got a strong housing market, we've seen jobs growth pick up, and that's made consumers a little bit more confident and prepared to buy cars ."
The Motor Industry Association says sales of trucks, utes and vans in particular increased throughout the year. More than 2400 were sold in December alone, the highest number in a month since records began in 1976.
The market leader for new passenger vehicles was Toyota, which sold more cars in 2013 than in any year for the past 26 years.