The UK new car market achieved modest growth in August, traditionally a slow month ahead of the 1 September registration plate identifier change, as sales rose 3.3% year on year, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 81,640 new cars were registered last month, with year to date performance remaining positive, up 2.8% to 1.68m units.

The fleet sector drove the growth with demand, buoyed by attractive finance deals and discounts, rising 7.7% to 43,267, while private registrations fell by 0.2%. Diesel demand also fell by 0.2%, with petrol registrations edging ahead 5.3% and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) seeing significant growth of 30.8%. Almost 54,000 AFVs have been registered so far in 2016, compared with just over 44,000 last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, said: “August is traditionally one of the quietest months as consumers look ahead to the September plate change, so growth, albeit small, is good news. With showrooms full of exciting models featuring the very latest technology and a raft of affordable finance options, it still makes economic sense to consider buying a new car. The key to maintaining this strong market is consumer confidence for which we look to government to deliver the conditions for economic growth.”