New car sales figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today show month-on-month sales were up 7.9% compared to May last year.

It’s the largest percentage rise for 23 months boosted by a 14.3% growth in private demand. The fleet market was also up 4.8% in May, which ends a three-month decline.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: “May’s 7.9% increase in new car registrations is good news for the motor industry and the UK economy, particularly the steady growth in demand from private buyers.”

Sue Robinson, director of the RMI National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, said: “It is very encouraging that new car sales increased again in May with a boost to private registrations of 14.3%. There are a number of great retail offers currently available to consumers which are tempting people into show rooms and customers are now willing to buy if the offer is right.

“Consumers continue to monitor their spending and are looking at ways to reduce their household expenditure. This has resulted in reasonable demand for smaller fuel efficient and easy to maintain vehicles. The upcoming Olympic games may cause distraction for consumers. Therefore in order for the market to remain stable the government should offer support by reviewing schemes that boost spending.”