New UK car sales in September at highest level in five years
New UK car sales in September hit their highest monthly total for five and a half years as the latest 63-plate attracted buyers.
The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 403,136 new cars were registered in the UK, a rise of 12.1% on the same month in 2012.
September is typically strong as it is one of the two months each year when new registration plates are issued.
Cars made in the UK account for one in seven of the domestic sales.
Ford's Fiesta remains the UK's top selling car, with 20,600 sold in September. Vauxhall's Corsa was in second place with 14,500 vehicles sold.
Car sales have now risen for 19 months in a row.
The SMMT's chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: "The UK market is reflecting growing economic confidence."
"Robust private demand has played a major role in this growth, with customers attracted by exciting, increasingly fuel-efficient new models which offer savings in the cost of ownership."
The SMMT said the growth also reflected the fact buyers were returning to the market after a period of holding off.
Buyers typically tend to replace new cars after three years, but because of economic conditions in recent years may have left that longer.
It is three years since the ending of the vehicle scrappage scheme, which gave people incentives to trade in their old cars. Cars bought under that scheme would now be around three years old.
Another factor boosting sales was the type of financing deals available, which can lump together payments with servicing and even vehicle excise duty.
Richard Lowe, an analyst at Barclays, said: "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."
But he added that the UK car market was likely to remain strong. "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," he said.
The UK car market is the second biggest in Europe after Germany .
So far this year, UK buyers have bought 1.79 million new cars, compared with Germany's 2.22 million.
The gap between the two has shrunk 6% since this time last year.
The figures came as Daimler announced record monthly sales at its Mercedes-Benz arm.
In September sales volumes grew by 15.9% to 142,994 cars.
The company said sales were driven by China, where volumes rose 21% last month.
"Looking at the previous nine months, we can safely say that Mercedes-Benz will post another sales record for 2013," said Joachim Schmidt, head of sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars.