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UK new car registrations last month posted the best growth of the year with a 3.2% (5,505) rise to 175,668 units.

“Three additional [selling] days in the month, due to the early Easter this year, may have helped sustain growth for a second successive month which created the highest April volume since 2005,” the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Registrations over the first four months of 2008 were virtually unchanged at 859,017 units year on year, despite concerns over the strength of the economy.

“Concerns that GDP growth may slow to around half the level it reached in 2007, combined with rising cost pressures on both consumers and businesses, have heightened uncertainty that the current robust nature of new car demand will continue,” the SMMT added.

Ford’s Focus maintained its best seller slot in April and also outsold the VW Golf to become the top selling diesel model. Vauxhall outpaced Ford to be the best selling brand in April with four models in the top 10.

“Diesels continue to see their market share and volumes rise as buyers consider the financial benefits. Registrations accounted for a record 45.4% of the market in April, following a 20% gain in volumes. Diesel demand is expected to rise further in 2008 and 2009, and the forecast volumes have been revised upwards,” the SMMT said.

“We were please to see that the car market in April proved strong. There are signs that consumer confidence in the high street is weakening but we hope that the car market remains strong with the help of manufacturer incentive and competitive credit deals,” the Retail Motor Industry Federation, representing dealers, said.