UK new car registrations increased by 7.7% in May to 194,032 units and the result is the 27th consecutive month of growth, breaking a record set in the 1980s.
The May result in 2014 outperformed the last 10 years and the registrations for 2014-to-date have passed the one million mark, rising 11.6% to 1,058,974 units, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The corporate market accounted for the highest proportion of growth, with business registrations up 26.8% in May to 7,619 units, while fleet registrations were up 6.5% to 95,702 units.
Private registrations mirrored the month's growth with a 7.7% increase to 90,711 units.
The Ford Fiesta was the most registered car of the month again with 9,450 units. The Volkswagen Golf took second place with 7,134 units and the Vauxhall Corsa took third place with 6,536 units.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, put the growth down to increasingly confident consumers who have been drawn to new products and competitive finance offers.
The SMMT is forecasting an overall rise of 6% in new car registrations this year and warns that the coming months could see some levelling off in growth rates as underlying demand stabilises.
Scotland leads the growth
The Scottish market accounted for the highest proportion of growth in May with a 15.76% increase in registrations to 17,800 units. Wales followed with a 12.5% increase to 6,966 units and then Northern Ireland with a 12.42% increase to 4,762 units. England was, of course, the largest part of the market at 163,585 units, with a slightly slower rate of growth by 6.76%.
The SMMT has looked at buying trends over the last 10 years has concluded that motorists are demanding ever-increasing levels of style, comfort and functionality.
In the decade from 2004 to 2013, the number of cars registered with alloy wheels as standard jumped from 65.0% to 87.1%, while air conditioning was standard on 95.4% of cars in 2013 compared to just 75.3% in 2004.
Reflecting the intensifying demand for in-car connectivity, registrations of cars with MP3 capability as standard increased from 83.3% of the market to 95.7% in four years between 2010 and 2013.
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: "With private vehicle registrations outperforming volumes once again this month, it is evident that consumer confidence in buying cars is on track for a successful year
“The new products and services offered by dealers and manufacturers during 2014 have in no doubt influenced many consumers to buy. However competitive pricing and strong incentives remain important if the sales trend is to continue throughout the year.”
Chris Sutton, Black Horse managing director, said: “If the positive momentum in new car sales continues, it looks like we are set for a strong Q2 in the motor industry as this month’s figures show consumer demand for new cars remains unabated, albeit we may not see the same pace of growth that we have witnessed in recent months.
"Car manufacturers are clearly offering the right balance of quality cars and attractive finance deals that make owning a new car both affordable and appealing. Lastly, as the UK economy continues to make positive noises with consumers feeling more empowered to buy big ticket items such as cars we would anticipate car manufacturers will respond by continuing to work hard to launch cars with cutting edge technology."