UK new car registrations outperformed expectations in March, jumping almost 6% against a year ago, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said.
New car registrations increased for the 13th month in a row to 394,806 units. They also rose 7.4% in the first three months of 2013 compared with the first quarter of 2012.
Volumes were at their highest since the 2010 Scrappage Incentive Scheme and the increase represents the 13th consecutive month of growth. However, registrations are still 12.1% below the 2007 pre-financial crisis market total.
SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton said that despite continuing concerns about the economy, "consistent monthly growth in the market is an encouraging sign of returning consumer confidence".
He said that motorists had been attracted to forecourts by "new models and the latest technologies".
Registrations of petrol-fuelled cars have risen by 12.1% so far in 2013, outselling diesels. This was spurred by growth in the small car and private sector markets, the SMMT reported.
Registrations of alternatively fuelled cars dipped in the month, but rose by 2.9% in the first quarter.
The Ford Fiesta tops the registrations list for March with 22,748 registered, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa (16,169) and the Ford Focus (15,434).
Notable appearances in the SMMT figures for March include the BMW 1-Series (eighth most popular, with 7001 cars registered) and the Nissan Qashqai, which ranked sixth in the list (8465 registered) despite having now been on sale for nearly six years.
The year-to-date figures show the Mercedes C-Class is the most popular executive car in Britain; it has achieved 10,301 registrations in 2013 and therefore claimed ninth in the overall standings.
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