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UK car registrations hit five-year high in September

New vehicle registrations have hit a five-year high with more than 500 new cars driven away every hour in September, providing more evidence that the British economy is heating up.

The lure of the new 63 plate helped sales to climb 12.1pc to 403,136 in September, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said on Friday. This was the highest number of new cars sold since March 2008, helping sales drive towards the pre-recession average of 416,778.

“With over 400,000 new cars registered for the first time in more than five years, the UK market is reflecting growing economic confidence,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

“Robust private demand has played a major role in this growth with customers attracted by exciting increasingly fuel-efficient new models that offer savings in the cost of ownership.”

The UK car industry has also reaped the benefits of people wanting to take advantage of new fuel efficient models and payouts from the payment protection insurance (PPI) debacle. “It’s not enough to put on a deposit for a house, but it’s certainly enough to put a deposit on a new car,” Mr Hawes told the BBC on Friday.

The Ford Fiesta remained Britain’s most popular car last month, with 20,629 units sold.

“Attractive finance packages are offering consumers more clarity on running costs, which even with a more promising economic outlook is an important factor for those on a budget,” said Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays.
“As we head into the quieter months, I suspect we’ll see sales hold firm, keeping the UK market zooming ahead of our European counterparts.”

The UK car market has cemented its position as the second largest in Europe, with 1.79m new cars sold this year. In addition, more than one in seven new cars registered in September was built in the UK.

Only Germany has sold more cars this year, although the 2.22m vehicles sold is 6pc down on 2012.

Mr Hawes also believed the UK would sustain its recent strong performance. “This is the 19th consecutive month of steady growth and, with fleet and business demand still to reach pre-recession levels, we believe the performance to be sustainable,” he said. “The latest 63-plate should deliver positive results into next year.”

Britain’s insatiable appetite for new cars was further highlighted yesterday when German car maker Audi said sales in Britain hit a record high of 25,829 cars last month. Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler also saw European sales of its luxury marque climb 14.2pc in September, while global sales rose 15.9pc to 142,994.