Britain's new car market recorded the highest number of vehicle registrations for ten years last month, assisted by the changeover to the new 14-plate and a significant increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.
The total of 464,824 new car registrations represents a year-on-year increase of 17.7 per cent compared to March 2013. In the first three months of the year, a total of 688,122 new cars have been registered.
March is typically the biggest month of the year for registrations, accounting for almost a fifth of full-year registrations.
Since the UK moved to a twice-yearly plate change in 1999, the only month to post higher registrations was March 2004, when 466,954 vehicles were registered. Last month's total was just 2130 units short of the record 2004 total.
"March showed a surprisingly strong level of growth and a reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products," said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.
"Given the past six years of subdued economic performance across the UK, there is still a substantial margin of pent-up demand that is contributing to a strong new and used car market.