New car registrations have risen for the 38th consecutive month, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In April demand rose by 5.1% to 185,778 units – the month’s best performance since 2005. Year-to-date registrations for 2015 are up 6.4% to 920,366.

April’s strong performance, which comes after a record first quarter for the sector, continues a pattern of growth in new car registrations around general elections that dates back to 1979.

Six of the past nine general elections have coincided with a spike in new car demand in the three months immediately before and after polling day. Exceptions were during the recessions of 1992 and 2010, while the 2005 election period saw registrations dip as part of a market readjustment after hitting peak volumes in 2002.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Today’s figures highlight the current strength of consumer confidence, even at a time of such political uncertainty. We are confident that the UK’s new car market – so symbolic of economic mood – will continue to thrive, but long-term success will depend largely on economic and political stability in the months and years ahead. Whatever the outcome of today’s election, the next government must act quickly to uphold economic certainty and reassure consumers and markets.”