Total year-to-date registrations were up 2.4% to 1,443,576 units and year-to-date diesel registrations rose by 6.6% to 562,917 units.
Growth in demand for diesel-powered cars jumped to its highest rate since January. Diesel penetration passed 40% for the first time this year and was well above last July's 38.9% rate. Diesel penetration over the first seven months of 2007 has climbed to 39%, compared with 37.5% a year ago.
Private registrations were up for fifth month this year, with a 2.8% rise last month.
“Trying to predict the spending habits of the motorist is as tricky as forecasting the British weather, and July has given us both of those challenges in spades,' said Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of SMMT.
“In spite of interest rate rise concerns and the traditional quiet holiday period, new car registrations have exceeded expectations. Interestingly, diesel cars took a whopping 41.2% of the total registrations, which should help government and industry with their carbon dioxide reduction targets,” added Macgowan.