UK new car registrations increased by 14.8% in April to 163,357 units with the best performance for the month since 2008.
According to the latest statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), April secured the strongest growth in 14 months as buying cycles and market volatility combined to boost uptake.
It continues the growth seen in Q1 this year which led to the SMMT revising up its full year market forecast for this year to 2.106 million units, which would be a 3% increase on 2012. This figure is still some 300,000 units off the pre-recession market. Further growth to 2.123 million units is expected in 2014.
Demand in March is thought to have spilled over into April due to high demand for certain models last month.
Mike Baunton, SMMT interim chief executive, said: “The UK new car market continues to perform surprisingly strongly, with volumes again increasing in April.
“While the headline increase was up almost 15% there were more sales days this year than last.
“The UK continues to perform well ahead of the troubled Eurozone as consumer confidence, regular purchase cycles, attractive finance deals and wider market factors continue to make new car buying favourable for motorists."
The mini segment continues to post the best growth, while the supermini segment remains the largest segment. All segments, except upper medium, posted growth during April and the year-to-date.
The Ford Fiesta was yet again the best-selling model in April and so far this year.
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: "It is encouraging that new car sales increased in April with private registrations continuing to improve.
"Dealers are reporting demand for smaller vehicles that offer better fuel economy and cheaper maintenance. This along with the new products and services offered by dealers and manufacturers is encouraging people to buy.
“Consumer confidence is still fragile therefore competitive pricing and strong incentives remain important in convincing customers to buy a new car.”
Mike Allen, Panmure Gordon executive director equity research, support services, said: "We believe the ongoing demand weakness across the Eurozone is a larger factor behind putting stock in the UK market at present.
"Our overall sense is that the PLC dealer groups are continuing to trade well, and should report decent H1 results against the current market backdrop.
"We also continue to see robust trends in the used car market from a volume and pricing perspective, and anticipate margins in this part of the market to be heading in the right direction as well."