LONDON (Reuters) -- UK new-car registrations rose by 6 percent in September compared with the same month a year earlier, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said today.
Sales rose to 425,861 last month, the 31st consecutive month of growth and the best September since 2004.
The market is on track for a total of 2.45 million new-car registrations in 2014, which if reached, would be the highest level recorded since 2004.
Figures are typically strong in March and September when the UK introduces new registration plates, with the SMMT saying the new series was one of several factors to push up figures.
Cheap finance, helped by record-low interest rates, has pushed up car sales since the 2008-09 financial crisis which saw registrations nose-dive and the government intervene to support the industry with a scrappage scheme.
Up to 80 percent of new-car purchases are now made on credit with many customers effectively renting a new car - typically for three years - before trading it in for a new model using a scheme known as a personal contract plan (PCP).
But there are signs the UK's buoyant car market is beginning to cool with year-on-year sales growing by 18 percent in March, the last time new registration plates were brought in, three times as much as September's more moderate rate of growth.
Car sales were one of the first areas of UK consumer demand to recover after the economic downturn.
Ford's Fiesta subcompact remained the UK’s top-selling car, SMMT data showed, followed by Ford’s Focus compact model and the Vauxhall Corsa subcompact.
The UK joined other major European markets in reporting a sales rise last month. Registrations in Germany rose 5 percent, while in France car sales were up 6 percent. In Italy, sales rose 3 percent and in Spain, a government scrappage scheme helped to lift registrations by 26 percent.