Sales of new cars surge to 10-year high

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New car sales soared in March, with the new 14 number plate helping registrations reach their highest monthly total for 10 years.

A total of 464,824 new cars were registered last month – a rise of 17.7 per cent on the March 2013 figure and the best since 466,954 were registered in March 2004, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

The March 2014 and March 2004 figures represent the best two months for new sales since 1999 when the motor industry abandoned the August once-a-year number plate change in favour of twice-a-year changes in March and September.

The bumper March 2014 total took year-so-far sales to 688,122 – a 13.7 per cent rise on the total for the first three months of last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said last month’s surge represented “a surprisingly strong level of growth and a reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products”.

He added: “Given the past six years of subdued economic performance across the UK, there 
is still a substantial margin of pent-up demand that is contributing to a strong new and used-car market.”