UK car sales grew by close to a quarter in August, helped by a surge of interest in petrol vehicles.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), August saw the registration of 94,094 new cars, 23.1 per cent or 17,661 units more than the 76,433 reported in the same month last year.

Much of this was fueled by a 39.1 per cent rise in sales of petrol cars, but it was the 88.7 per cent hike in demand for hybrid and plug-in cars that was most notable, leaping from just under 4,000 last August to almost 7,500 this time around.

Business sales – typically a minor part of the new car market – rocketed by 166.4 per cent from 938 to 2,499 units in August.

All this means that for the year so far, some 1,571,986 new cars have been registered, which is 4.2 per cent short of the first nine months of last year.

What’s selling?

Superminis remained the best-selling kind of car last month, followed by small family and dual purpose cars, with the luxury saloon and city car segments enjoying the biggest growth, up 120.8 and 39.6 per cent respectively.

The Ford Fiesta was unsurprisingly the month’s most popular model, followed by the VW Golf and Polo, but there were some unexpected names in the monthly top ten, such as the Ford Kuga in a lofty fourth place, as well as the SEAT Leon (6), Honda Jazz (7) and Suzuki Swift (8).

Quiet month

August is usually the quietest month for new car sales, ahead of the introduction of a new reg plate in September (‘68 this time).

As such, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said it was important to take these figures into context.

“Given August is always a small month in new car registrations, it would be wrong to view the market as booming,” he commented.

“Indeed, this past month has seen some significant variances as regulatory changes have disrupted some supplies. In the long term however, the new emissions certification test will give consumers renewed confidence in the performance of all vehicles, helping them choose the latest, cleanest technology that best suits their driving needs.”

Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, added: “It’s great to see new car sales heading in the right direction, even if it is such an insignificant month in the overall picture.”

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