New car sales hit 21st Century high

A fleet of cars Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The SMMT says technology is helping drive the growth in new car sales

The UK has seen its highest monthly level of new car sales this century.

March saw 492,774 new cars registered, 6% up on the same time last year and the best monthly figure since August 1998, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The UK car industry has been growing for three years in a row, helped by a strong export market.

March is typically a strong month for car registrations, as it is when new number plates are released.

Sales were buoyed by low interest rates and sales of new offerings such as fuel-efficient cars.

The best selling model in March was the Ford Fiesta, with 27,034 sold.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ford Fiestas were the most popular car in March 2015

'Continued investment'

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "The best month this century for new car registrations is a welcome boost for the UK's thriving automotive sector.

The challenge for a new government and industry will be to maintain this momentum and to strengthen Britain's manufacturing capabilities through continued investment, innovation and policies which maintain our global competitiveness.

"Whatever the general election result, the new government must keep up the commitment to the sector, which is delivering at home and abroad."

Privately registered petrol cars continue to make up most of the cars sold, although there has been a 62% rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles compared with 2014.

In 2014, the UK made £26.2bn from car exports.

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