British car sales at highest for a decade: trade data

New car sales in Britain rallied in March to the highest total for a decade, industry data showed on Friday.

Sales jumped 17.7 percent last month to 464,824 vehicles compared with data for March 2013, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.

That was the highest monthly figure since March 2004.

"New car registrations surged 17.7 percent in March ... a surprisingly strong level of growth and a reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

"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.

"There has never been a better time to buy a new car thanks to attractive finance deals and advanced technologies that often make new cars cheaper to run."

The SMMT added that it expected the market to perform positively for the rest of 2014, albeit at a more modest rate.

The top selling car in March was the Ford Fiesta, followed by the Ford Focus, then the Vauxhall Corsa, and with the Volkswagen Golf in fourth place.

Sales were boosted by the twice-a-year number plate change that occurs in March and September. These two months normally account for about one third of the annual market.