The UK new car market achieved modest growth in August, with registrations up 3.3% compared with the same month last year, according to figures released today by Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 81,640 new cars were registered in the month, with year-to-date performance up 2.8% compared with the same period last year at 1.68 million units.

The fleet sector drove the growth with demand, rising 7.7% to 43,267, while private registrations fell slightly by -0.2%. Diesel demand also fell marginally by -0.2%, with petrol registrations edging ahead 5.3%

Alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFV) grew 30.8%, up to 2,508 units in the month, compared with 1,918 for the period last year. Almost 54,000 AFVs have been registered so far in 2016, compared with just over 44,000 last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “August is traditionally one of the quietest months as consumers look ahead to the September plate change, so growth, albeit small, is good news. With showrooms full of exciting models featuring the latest technology and a raft of affordable finance options, it still makes economic sense to consider buying a new car. The key to maintaining this strong market is consumer confidence for which we look to government to deliver the conditions for economic growth.”

Sue Robinson, director of National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, said: “Intelligence from our members demonstrates consumer demand remains steady as a result of record employment levels and record low interest rates. With good footfall through dealerships we look forward to the September plate change with confidence.”

Chris Bosworth, director of strategy at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “The total figure continues to disguise the performance of the private sales market where, for the fifth month in succession, we have seen a drop in customers buying new cars. This may be in part due to the timings of the calendar year – August is traditionally one of the quieter months in the new car market, with most drivers waiting until the September plate change to buy a new vehicle. As such, and despite today’s figures being a positive indicator, it is still too early to gauge the impact that Brexit is truly having on the market.”