The UK car market continued its positive growth trend in September with monthly car sales up by a healthy 12.1% on last year, to reach 403,136 units.

Another strong month for car sales in the UK contrasts with depressed car markets in much of continental Europe. Analysts and industry observers put the UK’s positive car market this year down to a mixture of factors including a relatively strong economy and private retail buyers being attracted to good deals on model changeovers that are also linked in to finance plans. 

September is a big month in the UK car market, with a registration plate change taking place. Manufacturer activity appears to have helped boost private retails sales which were 17.1% ahead of last year.

“The September new car registrations figure was the highest monthly total since March 2008. With over 400,000 new cars registered for the first time in more than five years, the UK market is reflecting growing economic confidence,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. 

“Robust private demand has played a major role in this growth with customers attracted by exciting, increasingly fuel-efficient new models that offer savings in the cost of ownership. This is the 19th consecutive month of steady growth and, with fleet and business demand still to reach pre-recession levels, we believe the performance to be sustainable. The latest 63-plate should deliver positive results into next year.”

The SMMT forecasts that car sales in the UK this year will be around 2.2m units, a result that would be around 8% up on 2012’s total.

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Analysts also welcomed the latest data on the UK car market and the continued recovery that has taken the UK car market close to where it was before the recession.

David Raistrick, UK Automotive Leader at Deloitte, welcomed the UK market growth in September. “Three quarters of the way through the year, the UK market is now firmly established as the second largest in Europe with only Germany reporting greater levels of new car sales,” he said. However, he added a note of caution on the scale of the deals being done in Britain to drive showroom traffic. “There remains the threat that residual values may be undermined as more product is directed into the UK marketplace,” he said.

Derek McAllan, Head of Automotive Retail KPMG, said that rising house prices might also be a factor in higher car sales. “The UK market powers onwards and upwards driven by improving  economic conditions and rising house prices feeding consumer confidence and particularly strong  private demand,” he said. “This will likely continue into 2014 and maybe beyond. Having fallen by over 20% during the recession, the UK new car market is in touching distance of pre-recession levels.”

See also: Tim Zimmerman, Peugeot UK, on the UK car market 

Below video clip: Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, comments on the UK September car market