LONDON (Reuters) -- UK new-car registrations rose 8 percent in November, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said today, taking total sales in 2014 to the highest level for any year since 2007 even before December's data.
Sales reached 172,327 last month according to the SMMT, the 33rd consecutive month of growth in the market.
The result takes the year-to-date total to just over 2.3 million, the highest level since 2007, boosted by cheap credit and the UK's economic recovery.
The SMMT forecasts that total new-car sales this year will hit 2.46 million, which would be the highest level in a decade. But the pace of growth is expected to subsequently cool.
Nearly four fifths of new-car purchases are now made on credit in the UK, helping boost figures as customers benefit from low interest rates and deals from automakers.
However, the SMMT forecasts that annual sales will slow with total new-car registrations growing modestly to 2.49 million in 2015 and remaining flat in 2016.
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said that although rapid growth was unlikely to continue, a number of factors would help maintain strong demand.
"Rising employment is supportive for car sales, while recent lower inflation is helping purchasing power,” he said, adding that lower gasoline prices would also help boost demand.
Mixed results in Europe’s top markets
Spain and Italy joined the UK in reporting sales gains of 17 percent and 5 percent respectively last month, but in Germany and France, Europe’s No. 1 and No. 2 markets, registrations in both countries fell by 2 percent.
Ford's Fiesta subcompact remained the UK’s top-selling car last month, SMMT data showed, followed by the VW Golf compact and the Vauxhall Corsa subcompact.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report