Car sales see 'strong' six months, says the SMMT

New cars at a compound in Sheerness, Kent

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New car sales have seen a 'strong' first half of the year says the Society of Motoring Manufacturers (SMMT).

New figures show car sales rose 10.6% to 1.28m in the six months to June, compared to the same period last year.

The Society of Motoring Manufacturers (SMMT) says the figures mark the best half-year sales total since 2005.

"Improving economic conditions have helped propel the UK new car market to a strong first half-year performance," said SMMT's chief executive Mike Hawes.

"The overall market has risen faster than we were expecting but, after a bumper March, growth is showing signs of stabilising around our forecast level," he added.

Sales of alternatively-fuelled cars rose 51.3% to 23,337.

Top ten best selling cars in June:

1: Ford Fiesta, 11,213

2: Vauxhall Corsa, 7,961

3: Ford Focus, 7,399

4: Volkswagen Golf, 6,546

5: Vauxhall Astra, 6,249

6: Nissan Qashqai, 5,356

7: Vauxhall Insignia, 4,660

8: Fiat 500, 4,177

9: BMW 3 Series, 3,961

10: Audi A3, 3,893

Source: SMMT

The best selling model in June was the Ford Fiesta with 11,213 sales in June and 70,153 sales in the first six months of the year.

The Ford Focus was the third best selling model in June with 7,399 sold, but it was the second most popular so far this year with 44,754 sold.

Vauxhall saw healthy sales of its three main models - the Corsa, Astra and Insignia - in June. Nissan, Fiat, Volkswagen, BMW and Audi rounded out the top ten.

Splashing out

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at HIS Global Insight said the figures suggested things were "looking largely bright for the motor industry" which he said should continue to fuel ongoing healthy car sales.

He added: "The motor industry will be hoping that ongoing robust UK economic activity continues to underpin consumer and business confidence, and their willingness to splash out on new cars."

Separately, a committee of MPs has called on insurers to be banned from settling whiplash injury damage claims, without first seeking for a proper medical assessment, in order to limit fraudulent claims.

The transport committee has published a report has said the government should also stop personal injury lawyers from offering inducements, such as cash or tablet computers designed to encourage injured drivers to bring claims.

Data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows fraudulent motor insurance claims were the most expensive and common types of claims. The ABI said fraudulent motor insurance claims jumped 34% in 2013.

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