Registrations of new cars in the UK grew 7.0% in the first half of 2015 to the highest half-year total on record.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 1,376,889 cars were registered between January and June – higher than the previous record of 1,376,565 in the same period in 2004.

Buyers’ appetite for British-built cars is also on the increase with 13.9% (around one in six) choosing a UK-manufactured vehicle this year – the highest level in five years. A significant feature of recent months has been a strong surge in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles, and this was once again the case in June with volumes rising 70.9%.

June marked the 40th consecutive month of growth in the market with a 12.9% increase in the month to 257,817 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “It is still a great time to buy a new car in the UK, and it is encouraging to see more consumers choosing British models. This is important for the wider economy with 799,000 people now employed across the UK automotive sector, including retail. We anticipate a flatter second half of the year as the market finds its natural running rate.”

Sue Robinson, director of the national franchised dealers association (NFDA), commented: “It is extremely positive to see the new car market has now achieved 40 consecutive months of growth.

“Although it is encouraging to see that the market is continuing to grow, feedback and information from the industry suggests that manufactures could be pushing the market through use of targets and incentives. There is speculation that registration figures may not reflect the real number of cars actually being sold to end users.”